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New Study Shows Ecstasy's Coming Back Stronger Than Ever

And other findings from the European Drug Report 2016.
June 1, 2016, 8:40pm
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

As seen by the media frenzy surrounding the alleged drug-related deaths at Sunset Music Festival this past weekend, dance music culture is surrounded by a drug stigma. However, ravers aren't the only ones using (or abusing) illegal substances.

One of the European Union's (EU) decentralized agencies, The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, (EMCDDA) published its annual European Drug Report for 2016 yesterday, which summarizes drug-related trends and developments ongoing across EU member states, including use, policy, and public health responses. The results are a bit dense, but here are five of the key takeaways:

Ecstasy's coming back stronger than ever

Molly's older, more experienced drug sister is resurfacing with a vengeance. After peaking in the mid-2000s, ecstasy use had declined until now. Approximately 2.1 million young adults (15-34 years) have reported taking it in the last year, an increase of 300,000 from 2015's report. In many countries, the substance has transcended its rave environment and is used at more "mainstream nightlife settings such as bars and house parties." Researchers state that it's also stronger than before, positing "a deliberate strategy by producers to improve perception of the drug after a lengthy period in which poor drug quality and adulteration had resulted in a decline in use," as reports in past years suggested "the majority of tablets sold as ecstasy in Europe contained low doses of MDMA or none at all."

One in four Europeans have done illegal drugs

The report estimates that over 88 million Europeans between the ages of 15 and 64 years have done drugs at some point in their lives. (Last year, it was approximately 78.9 million.) Males dominate most of this year's total at 54.3 million reports, and women reporting their usage came out to 34.8 million.

Weed is the most popular drug… but it's also the most-seized drug

Of the estimated one million drug seizures to happen each year, most are of small quantities from users. Cannabis accounts for "more than three quarters" of seizures in Europe, likely because of its popularity.

The UK really likes cocaine

Cocaine was found to be the most popular stimulant among those surveyed, with 3.6 adults between 15 and 34 years old reporting usage in the last year—a 50% increase from last year's number of 2.4 million. However, if it were to be put up to a contest, the UK takes the coke—er, the cake—for highest population usage.

Authorities are getting with the times

The Silk Road bust brought massive attention to the "darknet market," where users can buy illicit substances through digital means. Vendors of these services implement high-tech strategies to ensure that all transactions are anonymous and virtually untraceable. Though the report notes that the darknet accounts for only a "small share of the trade," the fact that developments in technology can allow to can buy drugs like they would a new cell charger is a troubling realization, as "the potential exists for further expansion of online drug trading."

Read the full European Drug Report 2016 here, or watch a summary video below.>