Cheap, potent cocaine is fuelling ‘rise in mental illness and suicide rates’ and putting naive young users at risk of overdose – The Sun

A FLOOD of cheap, potent cocaine on Britain's streets is putting young people at risk of deadly overdoses, experts have warned.

More than a million Brits tried coke over the last 12 months – and doctors say one in five regular users will become addicts.

One in five 16 to 24-year-olds have tried coke in the last year, according to the Home Office – while hospital admissions for coke-fuelled mental health conditions in England have trebled in the last decade.

Experts warn the Class A drug can trigger paranoia, depression and suicidal thoughts. And with it's popularity soaring it's easier to get hold of, more socially acceptable and cheaper than ever.

Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in addiction and mental health at the University of York, said that there are well proven links between cocaine and acute psychosis in young people and adults.

He added: "There is a problem with increasing purity of cocaine which I think is catching out young naive users who are at risk of overdosing as they misjudge how much of the drug they should use."

Harry Sumnall, a professor in substance use at the Public Health Institute, explained: "The price of a gram of cocaine in the UK has remained stable, at around £35-£40.

"People's incomes rise with time, so a gram of cocaine has become more affordable, and you get a higher-purity product for your money."

This is why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, to warn about the mental health risks of taking the drug.

Deaths linked to the drug have quadrupled since 2011, and the inquests into the deaths of two Love Island stars – Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon – revealed how they killed themselves after taking cocaine.

Available and affordable

The rise of cocaine in British society is down to two key factors, experts told The Sun Online.

Firstly, higher-purity coke is more widely available and more affordable.

Prof Sumnall explained that coca-leaf production in South America has drastically increased since 2012, meaning criminal gangs can now offer a higher-purity drug, and still make a big profit without raising prices.

He says that plummeting prices mean that cocaine has become more popular with people who couldn't previously afford it.

He added: "Now even those who have less to spend can buy the sort of cocaine that richer people could only previously afford.

"Cocaine now has a reputation for providing good value for money.

"It acts as a symbol of a particular aspirational lifestyle that was previously unaffordable."

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