There is a common perception that drug use in the UK is out of control – that all young people take drugs and that drug use and dealing is rampant across Britain’s playgrounds. The facts suggest otherwise, but as with many misconceptions, there are elements of truth: the UK regularly features at or near the top of any Euro league of drug use among young people and it would be ridiculous to categorically deny that drugs are in circulation in any school. However, a combination of official statistics, academic research and DrugScope’s own information sources on the ground present a much more mixed and complex picture.
How many people use drugs?
Of the general adult population aged 16–59, around ten million people, or 30%, say they have ever tried an illegal drug. The figure drops to around 10% for use in the last year and just over 5% for use in the last month.
For those aged 16–24, the main age group likely to be using drugs on a
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