Summary: The emergence of a new generation of heroin users has been spotted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, according to its 1998 Annual Report on the State of the Drugs Problem in the European Union, which was unveiled on December 18 in Vienna. In addition to regular chapters on issues such as prevalence of drug use in the European Union, demand reduction practices and national strategies, this year's report (which relates to the situation in 1997) carries two new chapters, which, amongst other revelations, give evidence of heroin use moving from cities to rural areas, cocaine use rising steadily (although prevalence is still low) and addiction to opiates affecting between 0.2% and 0.3% of the EU population.

The first of these new chapters enlarges the geographical scope of the Report by examining, for the first time, the nature and extent of drug use in the 13 Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) participating in the European Commission-coordinated PHARE programme (of which ten are accession countries to the EU). The chapter dedicated to the CEECs provides a picture of problems associated with the consumption, traffic and transit of illicit drugs in each nation. Over the last two years, within the framework of the PHARE programme, the EMCDDA has forged a closer relationship with the CEECs. This has led to the creation, in most countries, of National Focal Points which play an increasingly active role in the Centre's work programmes and in improving the quality, reliability and comparability of information on drugs gathered in the region. Like their counterparts in the EU, the Focal Points in the CEECs compile National Reports to feed the EMCDDA information system. The Annual Report also draws attention to the political changes in the CEECs in the 1990s which "led to an increase not only in drug trafficking through much of the region, but also in the domestic consumption of imported drugs. Since the early 1990s, many CEECs have seen an increase in heroin consumption, and more recently the injection of imported heroin". Furthermore, the Annual...

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