Ecstasy use halved during pandemic

Reduced social contact is likely to have contributed to lower ecstasy use

Rates of ecstasy use fell by 47 per cent among all adults – and 72 per cent among 16 to 24-year-olds – between the year ending March 2020 and the year ending June 2022, according to the latest Crime survey for England and Wales (CSEW) figures from ONS, with less than 1 per cent of adults reporting taking the drug. Rates of nitrous oxide use also fell from 8.7 per cent to 3.9 per cent among those aged 16-24.

The reductions contributed to an overall drop in the reported rate of last-year class A drug use among all adults from 3.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent, and among 16 to 24-year-olds from 7.4 per cent to 4.7 per cent. The reduced rates of use were likely the result of restrictions on social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, says ONS, although rates of cocaine use were unchanged.

Just over 9 per cent of all adults and almost 19 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds reported last-year use of any drug in the year ending June 2022, unchanged from the year ending March 2020. The proportion of 16 to 59-year-olds classing themselves as ‘frequent’ drug users (once a month or more in the past year) also remains largely unchanged at 2.6 per cent. Almost half of illegal drugs were obtained through friends or colleagues, compared to just under 23 per cent from a dealer.

The CSEW figures are based on data collected between October 2021 and June 2022, and while they are the first set of figures comparable with pre-COVID data they are based on a lower response rate than usual ‘which may affect the quality of the estimates’, ONS points out.

The survey shows a shift in drinking patterns

Meanwhile the latest Health survey for England found that around 80 per cent of people had drunk alcohol during the last year, with just under 50 per cent drinking at least once a week. Just under 30 per cent of men had drunk over the recommended guideline of 14 units during the last week compared to 15 per cent of women. In a sign of the shift in drinking patterns over recent years, men aged between 55 and 74 were now most likely to exceed the weekly guidelines, along with women aged 45 to 64. Five per cent of men drank over 50 units a week, while 2 per cent of women regularly drank more than 35 units a week.

Drug misuse in England and Wales: year ending June 2022 at – read it here

Health survey for England, 2021 part one at – read it here

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