The number of drug users in Britain being admitted to hospital with cocaine overdoses is four times higher than what it was eight years ago, new figures reveal.
Official Government data showed that an average of more than two people a day are admitted to accident and emergency units for 'cocaine-induced health emergencies.'
AdvertisementCompared to 740 users who needed treatment in 2007, just 161 people were admitted to hospital in England for cocaine-related emergencies in 1999.
Most of patients in 2007 were men with an average age of 29 years, according to the magazine Druglink.
In comparison, heroin overdoses and cannabis poisonings both fell in the same period.
The figures reveal the scale and impact of cocaine's growing popularity and come after a series of high-profile cases involving the drug.
Recent drugs crime surveys have also reported growing use of cocaine among the urban middle classes.
A study showed that one in three young men attending A and E at a London hospital with suspected heart attacks were cocaine users.
Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the UN's drug control and crime prevention office, has described Amy Winehouse, the pop singer, as 'the poster girl for drug abuse'.
He added that 'one song, one picture, one quote that makes cocaine look cool can undo millions of pounds worth of anti-drug education and prevention'.
The UN's International Narcotics Control Board report linked 'celebrity endorsement of drug related lifestyles' to the boom in European cocaine consumption and the emergence of the devastation it is now causing in Africa as new drug-smuggling routes open up.
According to Home Office figures, the use of the drug has more than doubled among 16 to 24-year-olds since the start of the decade, and Britain remains one of the countries with the highest level of cocaine abuse, along with Spain and Italy.
The UN report also partly accused the police and courts of making matters worse by not treating celebrities strictly and failing to make an example of them.
Supermodel Kate Moss escaped prosecution following the publication of photographs of her allegedly snorting cocaine.