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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

Global Drug Survey 2015: seven things you may not know about drugs

Published on November 17th by David Pegg and George Arnett

1. Over one in five UK drug users have bought from the internet

More than one fifth of the UK’s drug users had bought drugs on the internet at some point in their lives, last year’s Global Drug Survey found. Of those that did, 44.1% – almost half of all respondents – had first done so at some time in 2012 or 2013. The UK appears to have been quickest to adapt to the new world of online drug trading, with the highest percentage of people who had ever bought drugs online. In the US 14.3% of respondents had purchased online while for the global sample it was 11%. This year’s survey may provide some insight as to whether last year’s takedown of the online drugs marketplace Silk Road by US law enforcement has had any impact upon how people use the Internet to buy drugs.

2. Over one in ten UK drug users took a “mystery white powder”

Last year’s Global Drug Survey found that 11% of UK respondents had taken an unspecified “white powder” within the previous 12 months, despite having no idea what said white powder actually was. 80% of those reporting this behaviour said they were intoxicated when they did so. Almost a third were aged between 18 and 24.

3. MDMA is not just a party drug

MDMA has a reputation as a club drug, for consumption only on the dance floor. But the 2012 Global Drug Survey found that 36% of drug users who don’t go clubbing had used MDMA within the previous 12 months.

4. More people said they have tried MDMA than energy drinks

UK and US survey respondents were more likely to say they had taken cannabis than tobacco or even energy drinks at some point in their life, according to the results of the 2012 survey. There were 89% that said they had tried cannabis, compared to 85% for tobacco or 79% for energy drinks. Alcohol and tobacco were also the drugs that people most wanted to cut down on, comfortably ahead of prohibited drugs like MDMA or cocaine. On top of this the results for 2014 showed that more people admitted taking MDMA in the last 12 months than energy drinks.

5. People do not realise how bad their alcohol dependency is

People filling in the 2014 Global Drug Survey were asked to fill in AUDIT (the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), a questionnaire designed by the World Health Organisation to identify harmful or dependent drinking levels. The “very worrying” results found that 7% of respondents were either “probably dependent drinkers or at risk of becoming dependent”. Worse, 34.5% of those drinkers reckoned they drank an average of below average amount.

6. One in five drug users have been taken advantage of sexually

According to results from the 2013 Global Drug Survey, one in five drug users said that they had been taken advantage of sexually after alcohol or drug use. In a separate question, over one in ten (14%) said they had been given drugs or alcohol by someone they believed had the intention of taking advantage of them sexually. There were 2.4% that said they had had sex without giving their consent as a result of having been drugged by someone else without their knowing about it.

7. Synthetic cannabis is more harmful than natural cannabis

The designer drug synthetic cannabis which mirrors the effects of herbal cannabis is rated as more harmful than natural weed by users of the drug as well as being less likely to give pleasurable highs. The 2012 survey revealed that of those that had tried the two drugs, 93% said that they would go for natural cannabis if offered a choice. The danger of the synthetic incarnation of the drug was shown in last year’s results as users were much more likely to have visited A&E than users of traditional cannabis.

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