BRITAIN and Spain top the list for drug use in Europe.
While the UK comes top in amphetamines and ecstacy, both countries are neck and neck when it comes to cocaine.
Indeed, while British users come top for overall use, Spaniards are ahead for use over the last year.
According to new figures from the European Monitoring Centre, seven per cent of all Spaniards have taken cocaine, compared to 7.7 per cent of English.
The figures are higher than any other country in the world, apart from the U.S.
The statistics, released this week, also show that in the last year three per cent of Spaniards took the drug, compared to 2.6 per cent of Brits.
Alarmingly in the UK, five per cent of teenagers and young adults now use cocaine. This is even ahead of Spain, where links to South America have produced a cocaine boom in recent years.
Amanda Kennedy, who runs the New Life Addiction Centre, in Andalucia, said: “Spain has the highest rate of users because it is so much cheaper here. Consumers can buy a gram here for ?40, whereas in the UK it costs about £60-80.”
The Olive Press columnist continued: “We have both British and Spanish clients and have seen a big increase in business recently.
“Cocaine has definitely taken over from heroin and our clients are getting younger and younger. An alarming number are young Britons. It is very worrying.”
In a separate poll carried out by the UN earlier this year, use of the drug among the younger age group in Spain has doubled, even quadruped in the last decade.
This, despite indications that more people around the world are actually making an effort to find a local drug rehab center where they can get treatment.
Spain is notorious for its cocaine problem because of links to South America. Most imports of the drug arrives by boat on the infamously rocky Galician coastline, while many of the major drug gangs around Europe run their operations from the Costa del Sol.
Modesto Salgado, who runs one of Spain’s main drug rehab programs, blamed the huge increases in drug use on a lack of morals and education.
He said: “It’s a spoiled generation. They’ve suffered little, matured little and are not well-educated, They live for the moment, to enjoy.”