Brussels police are "incredibly worried" about the steep rise in the use of crack – a processed form of cocaine – on the streets and metro stations of the Capital Region.
Partly due to its cheap price, the popularity of crack has come over from Paris, Koen De Brandt, chief commissioner in the Brussels-South police zone, told De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad.
"It is one of the cheapest and most terrible drugs on the market," he said, explaining that the effects of crack are faster and more intense than cocaine, which also makes the drug more addictive. Crack is especially popular among people who are homeless.
While cocaine is best known as a powder drug that is usually snorted, crack is derived from combining the drug in its powdered form with water and another substance, usually baking soda.
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About three-quarters of drug users in Brussels take the drug, according to estimations from the reception and care centre for drug users Transit, which called it "the popular drug on our streets."
The explosion has not escaped Brussels residents: between January and October 2022, the public transport company STIB received 1,200 reports of overt drug use – 70% more than the year before.
The Federal Government recently announced that hard drug users can expect fines of up to €1,000, but that will do little to change the situation, according to Transit: crack users are so vulnerable that they cannot pay such fines.