Middle-class cocaine use is no more respectable than backstreet drug abuse, the Government’s chief drugs adviser has said.
Professor Les Iversen’s comments come after the news that cocaine can now cost less than £2 a line.
Prof Iversen told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that he was concerned by a softening of cocaine’s image, which has been referred to as a ‘party drug’ by some.
He said that cocaine is “one of the most addictive substances known to man, and it’s certainly not safe”.
Prof Iversen continued: “So the idea that seems to be gaining ground somehow that powder cocaine is somehow all right for middle-class users and crack cocaine is what the down and out on the street corner is using is a complete misconception.”
Separate figures show the number of people being treated for cocaine addiction has risen by 55 per cent in just four years.
A study of users carried out by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse showed 1,652 men and women were treated for cocaine addiction last year compared to 1,063 in 2005-06.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the number of children in England being treated for cocaine addiction had increased by 65 per cent since 2005.
Figures from the National Treatment Agency showed that between 2005-06 and 2008-09 the number of children under 18 being treated for cocaine addiction had increased from 453 to 745.
In January experts said no-one should think that cocaine is a “safe party drug”, following a new study showing even small amounts of the drug can be dangerous.
The study investigated the post-mortem reports and circumstances surrounding sudden deaths between 2003 and 2006.
Of the 668 sudden deaths it examined, 3.1 per cent were related to cocaine use.