Government Survey: Drug Use Down in England and Wales

cocaine_1853026b A government crime survey for England and Wales has revealed some surprising statistics about drug use.

Survey Findings.

The Home office study into drug use in England and Wales is claiming that one in three adults has used illegal drugs, however the number of adults (ages 16-59) using illegal drugs in the last year has fallen.

Around 12m people in the UK have tried an illicit drug in their lifetime, the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales has found with the percentage rising slightly from 36.3% in 2010/11 to 36.5% in 2011/12. The number of adults that had taken drugs in the last year however fell to 8.9% – the lowest figure since the measurements began in 1996.

Those surveyed revealed that they obtained drugs from domestic circumstances, including their home or a home of a friend. Just one in five, (around 21%), obtained drugs at a bar or club, from an unknown person.

Frequent Drug Use.

Frequent drug use among 16-24 year olds is twice the amount of the 16-59 year olds according to the latest statistics. Of the young people taking part in the survey who admitted using an illegal drug in the last year only 40% described themselves as a frequent user.

Cannabis, classified as a Class B drug, is still the most popular drug, with about 2.3million people using it in the past year. Powder cocaine is the second most prevalent illegal drug at 700,000 – there are also half-a-million ecstasy users and 300,000 people take amophatamines.

Additionally, according to a survey of 7,590 school pupils by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, just 43 per cent of children aged 11 to 15 had ever drunk alcohol last year compared with 61 per cent in 2002.

Not all the data points to drops in drug use, with some substances increasing in use since records began, including Cannabis, cocaine and ketamine, as the use of Ecstasy decreased.

Out Of Fashion’.

The Home Office claims that drug use is ‘going out of fashion’ is premature and inaccurate from the outset. A government crime survey will produce skewed answers as drug users may not provide completely accurate answers to questions. The way the survey is conducted, by answering questions with vague generalised answers such as ‘quite dangerous’ and ‘very dangerous’ also allow for the data to be unreflective of reality and gauge opinion on drugs rather than investigate use.

The population used to conduct the survey can also be called into question as a group of university students answering the survey may provide very different answers to middle-aged professionals or other groups. Whilst the data in many areas seems to be positive and reflect a change in drug culture in England and Wales the significance of its findings is debatable.

A Government spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that fewer young people are drinking, smoking and taking drugs. Despite clear progress we know there’s more that can be done to support healthy behaviours in young people.”

For access to the full report visit the Home Office website at:

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