Britain has been named the European capital of cocaine use and also has the highest rates of gonorrhoea of any other country on the continent, according to a new report. The proportion of young adults who consume cocaine is higher in the UK than anywhere else in Europe – with 4.2% of 15-to 34-year olds reporting using the drug at least once in the last year, according to the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). By contrast, just 1.9% of young adults across the rest of Europe admitted taking the drug, reported The Times.
"Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant in Europe," said the authors of the report, Health At A Glance: Europe 2016. Spain and the Netherlands also have high cocaine consumption, with more than 3% of young adults having used the drug in the last year. Despite its somewhat glamorous reputation, taking cocaine regularly can have devastating consequences, from permanent damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain, to high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and even death. The number of reported gonorrhoea cases was also higher in the UK than any other European country in 2014, the research found. In the UK, 60 people out of every 100,000 in the population had the STI, compared with an average of just 20 people per 100,000 in the rest of Europe. Symptoms of gonorrhoea include unusual discharge, pain when urinating, abnormal vaginal bleeding and infertility in the long term, notes the NHS. A report by Public Health England released earlier this year also found that cases of gonorrhoea have risen dramatically since 2012. Syphilis, too, has made a worrying comeback in the UK in recent years. The authors of the Europe-wide report concluded that life expectancy has increased across Europe, but many people spend their later years with "potentially avoidable" illnesses linked to smoking and obesity.