Cocaine Usage in London Falls by 31%

Throughout the last couple of years, there has been data to support that cocaine usage has spiked. In fact, in 2019, the National Crime Agency (NCA) stated that the UK is the ‘cocaine capital of Europe’ with 117 tones of the drug being consumed throughout the year. One report examined the UK’s drug market to be worth up to £11.8bn a year

In the City of London, the concentration of cocaine is measured through London’s sewers. Using the measure of what comes ‘out’ gives us a better understanding of the real-world levels of use and some of the statistics are eye-opening.

Cocaine usage over the last few years seemed to be rising to alarming levels in large cities but surprisingly, new evidence has suggested that the usage of cocaine, in London specifically, has dropped by almost a third.

2020 presented data that shows there per 1,000 Londoners, there was 619mg of Benzoylecgonine, the compound produced when the body breaks down cocaine. In comparison to 895mg in 2016 demonstrates a 31% decline in cocaine usage.

This could be for several reasons, but one theory is a large number of young people temporarily moving out of London for the lockdowns without an official address change.

In March 2020, a surge of young professionals temporarily moved to more scenic areas of the country and back in with their families when home-working became compulsory. With small rooms and limited outdoor space in London apartments, leaving the city seemed very attractive before each time the UK has locked down, and many took advantage.

With lockdown restrictions starting to ease, there may be a wave of demand for the drug as people begin to return to normal. The data for 2021 may show a spike throughout April, May, June and July as we see cocaine use rise again back to normal levels. This may even climb to some of the highest levels we have ever seen as people are restless to get back to their pre-covid lifestyles.

Cocaine users should take care: A rise in overdoses could potentially be seen across these months as people returning to the use of cocaine from a hiatus would not be able to consume as much they usually would.

Dr Leon Barron, from Kings College London, who is responsible for conducting some of the wastewater research, has said:

“It remains a major problem in London, and wastewater analysis provides a unique way to help understand illicit drug use trends on a population level in near-real-time.”

“More regular monitoring in London and ideally across several locations is required to build up a more accurate national picture before we can conclude that cocaine use has dropped in the UK.”

After 2021 concludes, it will be interesting to examine figures for cocaine usage. Will it continue on a downwards trajectory for London, or will it spike again?

Cocaine abuse is a problem across the UK, and there are plenty of resources available that can help if you’re seeking assistance.

Drug use is a sensitive subject, especially in the workplace, OdiliaClark can help to identify if your employees are impaired when at work. It is becoming increasingly common and HR teams need to ensure their policies and processes have been updated for huge numbers of home-workers and a post-covid working world.

Get in touch today to initiate a conversation most relevant to your business requirements.


This article was written by one of the Odilia Clark team. Odilia Clark is a specialist HR services company with over 30 years of combined experience in the space. OdiliaClark offers an independent drug and alcohol testing service using state-of-the-art Dräger equipment as used by the British Police and Fire Services.

OdiliaClark is a specialist human resources company whose consultants are fully trained and certified in carrying out impartial, digital drug testing for companies’ employees. They also offer a range of other services including policy advice, writing and implementation, which can include staff training services.

For more information on how Odilia Clark can help your business deal with these changes with a bespoke package designed for your business

Press Enter to Search