Demand for illicit drugs remains at a near constant state – although the supply may increase and decrease. In some parts of the U.S. drugs might be more available than other drugs due to a number of reasons.  This is also true for other countries around the world, even in Western Europe. In Great Britain, a recent string of cocaine seizures has created a unique situation where there is a shortage of cocaine on the island. This sounds like a great thing, right? The police are doing their jobs and the drugs stay off the street. However, this article from Vice magazine explains the negative – and unintended – consequences.

The author of the article, Steve Zacharanda, delves  into the problems associated with a cocaine shortage. According to his article, the shortage was created due to a recent string of major drug busts across Europe and Great Britain. Naturally, prices soared and purity levels dropped. The one thing that didn’t change, however, was the fact that many people were still searching for cocaine to fuel their all-day drinking bouts without falling asleep.

Zacharanda describes “K”, a low-level drug dealer who was worried about the recent shortage of cocaine. K received multiple calls from people asking for cocaine when they could not obtain it themselves. K couldn’t find cocaine anywhere and he warns Zacharanda that things will get out of control quickly, especially during the weekend when the English soccer team plays the Italians. K says, “People rely on coke to get them through all-dayers and nighters, people use it every week so take that away and people are going to be plastered-drunk. The amount of fights will be insane and if England loses then I bet a few places will get smashed up – it’s standard.”

The article also mentions another dealer who goes by the name of Danny. Danny is not a low-level dealer like K. Danny deals in bulk amounts of cocaine. He informs Zacharanda that it’s becoming more dangerous to deal drugs and the drought is bad news for both dealers and users. He also says that other organizations (like Albanian criminal groups) will rush in with synthetic cocaine to fill the demand. At least we know what’s in real cocaine, but can you even begin to imagine what could be in fake cocaine? The shortage also forces drug dealers to interact with new contacts, which raises the risk of rip-offs, robberies, violence, and feuds. Danny remarks that no one wants to see people in bars fighting and causing problems because they couldn’t drink and do drugs liked they planned. He also says that most of the police believe they are winning by causing a temporary shortage of cocaine, but they really have no idea of the consequences.

Demand fuels the drug trade and repeat customers provide most drug dealers with some level of predictability and a steady income. However, when you take the drugs out of the equation, things can get a little bit hairy. Cocaine is a harmful chemical, but at least we (mostly) know what’s in it. When you have a lack of cocaine, yet demand is still high, synthetic cocaine may take center stage and that would be very dangerous.