Keep up-to-date with drugs and crime

The latest research, policy, practice and opinion on our criminal justice and drug & alcohol treatment systems
10 things I learnt from the 2017 Global Drug Survey
Brits are using more MDMA and psychedelics, are more likely to buy drugs from the darknet and more likely to be hospitalised after using purer cocaine.

Share This Post

Global trends in drug use

The Global Drug Survey becomes more valuable every year; this year almost 120,000 people completed the survey and the data from 115,523  was usable – including 5,900 from the UK.

The survey is very different from research such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales because it is typically completed by regular, mainly recreational, drug users.

The findings make fascinating reading and I recommend that you find time for a browse.

But, in the meantime, here are 10 facts that I hope you’ll find as interesting as I did:

Global Trends

1: Methamphetamine the most dangerous substance

Methamphetamine was the substance most likely to result in seeking emergency medical treatment; particularly for women:

2: Wake up and smell the weed

Americans were the most likely to smoke cannabis within an hour of waking up in the morning:

3: Cannabis and tobacco

Americans are also the least likely to smoke tobacco with their cannabis, just one in 12 as opposed to the majority of Europeans:

4: Pick your own

Columbians and New Zealanders are most likely to pick or grow their own magic mushrooms:

5: Why do people use psychedelics?

Curiosity and mind expansion are the two most common reasons cited but, as you can see, there was a wide range of motivations among the more than 5,000 people who answered this question:

UK trends

6: Rise in emergency hospital admissions for cocaine users

An increase in the purity of recreational drugs has lead to a major increase in UK cocaine users being admitted to A&E departments. Since 2015, the study found there had been a 50% increase in cocaine users being admitted to A&E. The research found that 38% of UK cocaine users admitted they wanted to try and use less of the drug, but only 8% planned to seek help in doing so. The research found that of those who had taken cocaine in the past 12 months, the average user had used the drug on 17 different occasions.

7: More Brits using the darknet

This increased likelihood of arriving in A&E is partly being driven where UK drugusers are sourcing their drugs. 1 in 4 (25%) of those who had used drugs in the past year had bought their drugs from the darknet, where dealers are anonymous, their I.P addresses are masked and payment is received in Bitcoin.

MDMA is the drug most bought globally on the darknet, with 49% of those having used the drug having bought it on the darknet. Since 2014, the number of UK drug-users who have bought their drugs on the Darknet has risen from 12% to 25%. Only users in Finland (41%) & Norway (27%) are more likely to have used the darknet to buy drugs in the past 12 months. 7% of UK cocaine users said that their last purchase had been via the darknet.

8: The Irish and Brits are the heaviest users of MDMA in the world:

9: Ketamine still very popular

Ketamine use continues to grow in the UK with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) appearing to have peaked; there has also been a growth in LSD analogues.

10: Support for legalisation of cannabis

31% of UK cannabis smokers said they would like to use the drug less, but only 16% of these said they would seek help to do so. 76% of people feel it is time for the government to copy the alcohol model and introduce regulation guidelines for cannabis use.


Blog posts in the drug and alcohol category are kindly sponsored by Breaking Free Group which has developed a powerful and adaptable digital health platform which targets the underlying psychological and lifestyle factors that drive addictive behaviours. Breaking Free has no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

Share This Post

Related posts

One Response

  1. Very interested to know if you know about the increase of false positive drug tests in addition services in Solihull? Oral swabs are showing positive results for cocaine and negative on urine, but they keep using the oral only tests. Mothers like myself have gone through hell in family courts trying to prove my sobriety to the point of having to pay for hair strand testing myself at costs of over £1000! After a year of false positive tests and my children not living with me, 4 hair tests that proved my innocence I’ve got my children back. But they insist on still using the oral swabs and giving no explanation for the incorrect tests.
    Unethical and traumatising to the point of contemplation of suicide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get every blog post by email for free