"100 percent pure" cocaine is circulating in the streets of England, and the product is killing users, according to reports from the United Kingdom.
Although most police would prefer you don't do drugs at all—it would certainly make their lives easier—officials in the U.K. are telling users they have to be careful when they choose to, because they have no idea what sort of product they're putting into their bodies.
"Taking drugs in any form is dangerous," said Eastbourne's Detective Inspector Neil Ralph, "particularly when the user does not know the purity of the drug." Ralph claims there have been two drug-related deaths in Eastbourne since April, and emphasized his department's emphasis on prosecuting the people responsible.
Cocaine isn't the only drug in question—heroin was also listed as a source of danger by local officials—and drug deaths have skyrocketed overall over the last few years. Drugs were responsible for over 3,600 deaths in the U.K. in 2015, the highest one-year total recorded since the the Office for National Statistics began keeping records in the early 1990s.
Data has pointed to the rise in drug purity as a potential cause of the spike in deaths, though the age of users has had an impact on the problem as well. Researchers believe as users get older, the combination of drug use with other health ailments leaves them more susceptible to death.
"Deaths involving heroin and morphine have more than doubled since 2012, partly driven by a rise in heroin purity and availability over the last 3 years," says Venessa Fearn, a researcher for ONS. "Age is also a factor in the record levels of drug deaths, as heroin users are getting older and they often have other conditions, such as lung disease and hepatitis, that make them particularly vulnerable."
Regardless of whether users are young or old, avoiding using altogether is the smart play. Drugs don't have to be 100 percent pure to pose grave risk to the user, and the rise in purity of common street drugs will only increase the risk of tragedy moving forward.