Tag Archives: drugs

Changing Patterns of Drug Use in the UK

Just a quick summary of changing patterns of drug use in the UK from the UK Government’s latest drug misuse survey.. I was going to do some analysis, but the pictures look so nice I’ll just leave it as it is for now….

The headline figure has to be the long term (20 year) decline in use of all drugs except for Cocaine for 16-24 year olds, while the overall trend in drug use for 16-59 year olds has remained stable at about 3% of the population.

Key Stat One – There has been an overall decline in drug use since the mid 1990s

  • Around 1 in 11 (8.8%) adults aged 16 to 59 had taken an illicit drug in the last year. However, this proportion more than doubles for 6 to 24 year olds (18.9%).
  • Around one-third of adults had taken drugs at some point during their lifetime. Of 16 to 59 year olds, 35.6% had reported ever using drugs.
  • There has been a long term decrease in drug use since 1996. During this period any Drug use within the last year for 16-59 year olds has decreased from about 11 to 9% of the population
  • There has been a marked decrease in drug use since 1996  amongst younger people. Any drug use within the last year for 16-24 year olds has decreased from about 30% of the population to 20% of the population.
  • Use of any class A drug within the last year for 16-59 year olds has remained stable at around 3% of the population.


Key Stat Two The only significant counter trend to the above is the increasing use of Cocaine, although this peaked in 2008 and has been in general decline since…


Key Stat ThreeA significant proportion of drug users are frequent users

  • 50% of Cannabis users and 20% of Cocaine users can be classified as frequent drug users.
  • 3.1% of adults aged 16 to 59 can be defined as frequent drug users (having taken any illicit drug more than once a month on average in the last year).
  • The proportion of young adults aged 16 to 24 classed as frequent drug users was 6.6% in 2013/14 and represented a statistically significant increase compared with 2012/13 (5.1%).


Key Stat FOURMen are more than twice as likely to take drugs compared to women


Key Stat FIVE – Unsurprisingly pub and club goers are much more likely to take drugs…

  • Those who went to nightclubs or pubs more often were more likely to use drugs frequently.
  • Levels of use of any illicit drug more than once a month on average in the last year were higher among those who went to nightclubs four or more times in the last month (10.9%) compared with 2.3% of respondents who had not visited a nightclub in the past month.
  • A similar pattern was found among those visiting pubs more often.



Key Stat SIXDrug use is highest amongst those from mixed ethnic backgrounds


Key Stat SEVEN – Gay people are about three times more likely to take Cannabis or Cocaine compared to straight people


Key Stat Eight – Poor people are twice as likely to take drugs as rich people

No nice graphic for this but…

  • People living in deprived areas were more likely to be frequent drug users.
  • A larger proportion (4.5%) of respondents who lived in more deprived areas were frequent drug users compared with those who lived in the least deprived areas (2.3%).


Drug Misuse Survey https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335989/drug_misuse_201314.pdf

The Guardian – Useful summary of some of the data in the above survey…