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Drugs in Switzerland Addiction group warns of rising cocaine purity

Cocaine use by Swiss man in Zurich

Swiss cities that took part in a recent European wastewater study are among those with the highest cocaine rates

(Keystone)

The purity of street cocaine in Switzerland is on the rise, according to the non-governmental organisation Addiction Switzerland. 

Data from the Swiss Society of Legal Medicineexternal link and drug analysis projectsexternal link by the saferparty.ch organization indicate a clear increase in the purity of cocaine, Addiction Switzerland said in a press releaseexternal link on Thursday.

It recalled that the Swiss cities that took part in the recent European wastewater studyexternal link are among those with the highest cocaine rates: for overall average consumption, five Swiss cities featured in the top nine – Zurich, St Gallen, Geneva, Basel and Bern.

Lausanne has also been in the spotlight in recent weeks over drug dealing on the city’s streets by up to 200 West Africans. On Tuesdayexternal link, the local authorities and police announced that more officers would combat the problem in certain districts, following complaints from local residents and a campaign led by Swiss film director Fernand Melgar.

+ Read more about cocaine use in Swiss cities

The Addiction Switzerland statement also coincided with the release of a new European Union report, warning that the purity of street cocaine in Europe is its highest level in a decade and the number of people seeking treatment for use of the drug is on the rise.

The EU drugs agency, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA),external link found that although the price of cocaine had remained stable, an increase in purity, first seen in 2010, continued in 2016.

Experts say the rise in cocaine purity is due to various factors including increased production in Latin America and the crackdown on cutting agents by law enforcement in many European countries. 

The increase in purity has been accompanied by a marked rise in the number of first-time admissions to specialised treatment centres for cocaine problems. In 2016, 30,300 people entered treatment for the first time for problems with the drug, more than a fifth more than in 2014.

SDA-ATS/sb

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