Cocaine use spreads in Swedish cities

Cocaine use in Sweden's major cities is increasing, according to new research presented on Monday.

Three out of ten people who work in the social services, healthcare, police or other community-focused organizations say that they have seen a rise in the number of people using the drug in the last six months.

Access to cocaine in Swedish urban areas is becoming easier, and the price has fallen significantly over the last five years.

“It’s a very worrying development. Cocaine is a dangerous drug which is at least as damaging as heroin,” commented Björn Fries, Sweden’s national drug policy coordinator.

According to the research, which was carried out by the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and other Drugs (CAN), the typical cocaine user is likely to be aged 21 to 40. Use is most common among people with other drug addiction problems, criminals and high earners.

“There is reason to believe that high earners are not as open about their drug abuse as other groups when they seek care,” said Fries.

“That’s why healthcare staff ought to be trained to recognize cocaine abuse. The same goes for employers and unions.”

Jan Westling, a detective in Stockholm police’s drugs unit, told Dagens Nyheter that the price of cocaine has almost halved compared to five years ago.

“Then you paid 1,500 kronor for a gram, now the average price is around 800,” he told the paper.

The research revealed that cocaine use is most common at private parties, in the home and in bars.

“Only through working together with bar-owners, police and local authorities can we get rid of cocaine and other drugs from the bar environment,” said Björn Fries.

However, since the middle of the 1980s the number of police officers in Sweden who work exclusively on combatting drugs crime has fallen dramatically. Then, there were around 800 dedicated drugs officers in the country, compared to around 200 today.