An official report by the European drugs agency has revealed that almost one in three drug overdose deaths in the continent are recorded in the UK.
The annual report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCCDA) this week said that the number of deaths from drug overdoses registered in Europe rose by 6 percent to 8,441 in 2015 for the third consecutive year.
Linking the deaths to heroin and other opioids, the survey indicated that 31 percent of them were in the UK and Germany was in second place with 15 percent.
“Over 93 million Europeans have tried an illicit drug in their lives and overdose deaths continue to rise … I am especially concerned that young people are exposed to many new and dangerous drugs,” said Europe’s home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
The EMCCDA warned that drug-related deaths in Europe could be much higher due to "systematic under-reporting in some countries" and delays in reporting.
"However, the possibility of under-reporting cannot be dismissed, as Europeans experiencing problems with prescription medicines may access different services than those used by illicit drug users," the report said.
The agency noted that the results of the study put the number of drug deaths in Europe far lower than the US, where 52,000 people died of overdoses in 2015, 33,000 of whom due to opioids.
That number is higher than the rate of death for suicides in the US, 13.4 deaths per 100,000, or the rate of death from car accidents, 11.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.
"In both Europe and North America, the recent emergence of highly potent new synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl derivatives, is causing considerable concern," it added.
Fentanyl is a synthetic pain killer, which is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and has been used increasingly as a recreational drug.
The report also revealed that the average age of death from drug overdoses for men was 38 and 41 for women.