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Drug deaths surged by 20 percent in 2015

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Drug deaths surged by 20 percent in 2015
Photo: DPA
08:45 CEST+02:00
More drug dealing, more drug taking, more drug deaths. After years of decreases in drug figures, the use of banned highs is once again rising in Germany - and fast.

The official figures for 2015 show that 1,226 people died due to drug consumption, a jump of 19 percent on 2014. Recorded drug criminality meanwhile rose 2 percent to 282,600 cases.

These figures come from the annual report on drug criminality by the government's commissioner for drugs, Marlene Mortler, and the president of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) Holger Münch, which was released in Berlin on Thursday.

The most drastic increases in drug deaths were found in Hesse, Saxony and Saarland. Berlin and Bavaria also had significantly more people who fell victim to narcotics.

Eighty-four percent of those who died due to drugs were men, a figure which corresponds to the balance of drug addicts between the sexes nationwide, Mortler said.

Drugs deaths have risen continually throughout recent years. In 2014, there was a three percent increase to 1,032. The year before that there were 1,002 deaths, the year previously 944. In the three years before that, the numbers had dropped.

The rise in use of hard drugs was also significant in 2015. Registered first time users of heroin shot up by 15 percent, cocaine by 7 percent. In total the number of first time users across all banned substances rose by 4 percent to 20,890.

Crystal meth remains another thorn in the side of authorities. Particularly in the area on the border with the Czech Republic, user rates are high, and in 2015 deaths due to crystal meth use shot up by 26 percent.

The government currently has plans in motion to tackle so-called "legal highs" - newly created chemical substances which provide an intoxicant effect. In the future entire groups of chemical substances are set to be banned rather than individual compounds.

On Wednesday the government will set out a draft bill on legal highs before the federal parliament.

Harald Terpe, drug spokesperson for the Green Party, called on the government to change its drug policy.

"Prohibition has failed," he said. "People who have died due to drugs are victims of the repressive drug policy which the government pursues. Addicts need help and not punishment."

The Green Party are pushing for the legalization of cannabis and proposed a draft bill to this effect in 2015.

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