Cocaine use on the rise

The economic recovery has led to more use of luxury drugs

The rise in wages in the Czech Republic has led to an increase in spending on recreational drugs. Both the use and purity of cocaine has risen among people with disposable incomes, according to anti-drug officials.

The price of one gram of cocaine is around Kč 2,000 to Kč 3,000, officials state. The price has not gone up in recent years, so when compared to inflation is has actually gotten cheaper. And with more people making higher salaries, it has become more accessible to a larger population.

“The supply of luxury drugs is on the increase, which may be related to the purchasing power of the people," National Anti-drug Center director Jakub Frydrych told news server Aktualne.cz. Cocaine is among drugs that people use to demonstrate their social status.

National Anti-drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil said that cocaine is popular especially in Prague and large cities. He said cocaine’s popularity is rising where income is rising, and it was particularly popular with people over 50 as a status symbol.

Vobořil added that different levels of purity cause a problem because of a risk of overdose when someone used to impure drugs uses a purer dose. There is also a risk from the contaminants used to reduce the quality of the drugs. These are sometimes more dangerous than the drug itself.

A police officer who works with drugs said cocaine more than 80 percent pure is now sold in Prague, and people are willing to pay more for it.

Growth in cocaine purity is also shown by government data. From 2011 the quality fell for four years and then the trend reversed. In 2014, sample purity averaged 25.9 percent, the latest data from 2016 was 42.5 percent.

Viktor Mravčík of the National Monitoring Center for Drugs and Dependence told Aktualne.cz that use of cocaine for nightlife and entertainment has been increasing since the beginning of the millennium. It has reached the same level as pervitin, a local form of methamphetamine that has long been popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, even during the communist era.

In Western Europe and Scandinavia, cocaine use is more widespread than in the Czech Republic, where even though it has risen is still relatively low.

Unlike marijuana, where people can have small amounts for personal use, cocaine has not been decriminalized in the Czech Republic.

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