United Kingdom

Statistics and other data regarding drug policies in the United Kingdom, covering all areas including public safety/criminal justice, treatment, harm reduction, prevention, and public health. Please note: the United Kingdom section includes data for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland does its own separate data reporting, so Scotland has a chapter of its own.

Prevalence and Geographical Distribution of Use, Northern Ireland

"• In 2010/11 use of any illegal drug was highest in the BHSCT [Belfast Health and Social Care Trust]. Adults (15-64 yrs) in the BHSCT reported lifetime (41%), recent (11%) and current (6%) use of an illegal drug.
"• The highest last year prevalence rate for any illegal drugs (BHSCT – 11%) was more than double that of the lowest rate (SHSCT [Southern HSCT] and NHSCT [Northern HSCT] – both 5%) among all adults.
"• Prevalence rates tended to be higher across all time periods in the BHSCT area than in other HSCTs."

Prevalence of Drug Use Among Students in England

"There has been a decline in drug use by 11 to 15 year old pupils since 2001. In 2011, 17% of pupils had ever taken drugs, compared with 29% in 2001. There were similar falls in the proportions of pupils who reported taking drugs in the last year and the last month. The decline in the prevalence of drug use parallels the fall in the proportions of pupils who have ever been offered drugs, from 42% in 2001 to 29% in 2011.

Prevalence of Drug Use Among Youth in Scotland, by Gender

"Ever used drugs (includes used drugs more than a year ago, in the last year and in the last month).
"Around one in five 15 year olds and a minority of 13 year olds reported ever having used drugs, with boys more likely than girls to have ever used drugs.
"• Eighteen per cent of 15 year olds and 4% of 13 year olds reported ever taking drugs.
"• Boys were more likely than girls to have ever used drugs (5% compared with 3% among 13 year olds and 19% compared with 16% for 15 year olds).

Prevalence of Past-Month Use of Various Drugs in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 59

"• Around one in 25 adults (4.0%) aged 16 to 59 said they had taken a drug in the last month. This equates to around 1.3 million people. The proportion is similar to the previous year (4.3% in the 2015/16 CSEW) and is statistically significantly lower than those observed a decade ago in the 2006/07 survey (6.0%) and when CSEW measurements began in 1996 (6.7%) (Appendix Tables 1.03 and 1.04; Figure 1.5).

Prevalence of Use of Ecstasy and Various Other Drugs in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 19

"The level of last year ecstasy use by adults aged 16 to 59 in the 2016/17 survey (1.3%, or around 439,000 people) was similar to the previous year (1.5%, or around 492,000 people). There have been small but statistically significant falls compared with a decade ago (1.8% in 2006/07) and the start of measurement by the survey in 1996 (1.7%). Generally, the proportion of 16 to 59 year olds using ecstasy in the last year has been relatively flat throughout the lifetime of the survey, fluctuating between one and two per cent since measurement began in 1996 (Figure 1.4).

Last Year Prevalence of Illegal Drug Use in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 59

"The 2018/19 CSEW shows that around 1 in 11 (9.4%) adults aged 16 to 59 had taken a drug in the last year, which equates to around 3.2 million people. The trend in the proportion of 16 to 59 year olds taking a drug in the last year was relatively flat between 1996 and 2003/04, followed by small year-onyear decreases until 2007/08. Since the 2009/10 survey, the proportion taking a drug in the last year has remained relatively flat, with the prevalence estimate remaining between 8.2 and 9.4 per cent.

Average Potency of Seized Cannabis in the UK, 2008

Average Potency of Seized Cannabis in the UK, 2008:
"• Twenty-three Police Forces in England and Wales participated in the study. Forces were requested to submit samples confiscated from street-level users. In early 2008, they submitted 2,921 samples for analysis to either the Forensic Science Service Ltd (FSS) or LGC Forensics at Culham (LGC F).
"• Initial laboratory examination showed that 80.8% were herbal cannabis and 15.3% were cannabis resin. The remaining 3.9% were either indeterminate or not cannabis.

Prevalence of Last-Year Illegal Drug Use in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 24

"As in previous years, the proportion of young adults aged 16 to 24 taking any drug in the last year was more than double the proportion in the 16 to 59 age group, at 19.2 per cent. This proportion equates to 1.2 million young people. It is this younger age group that largely drives the trend seen in the wider group of adults aged 16 to 59.

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