UK drug situation: annual report of the Focal Point on Drugs

  • Public Health England, et al.
  • 10 Aug 2020

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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The proportion of 16-59-year-olds in England and Wales who took drugs in the last year currently stands at 9.4 per cent, shows the UK drug situation 2019: Focal Point annual report. The document also reports that the proportion of 16-64-year-olds in Scotland who took drugs in the last year was 12 per cent, in 2017-2018, an increase from 7.6 per cent reported in the 2014-2015 survey. Northern Ireland has the lowest prevalence of drug use in the last year - 5.9 per cent of 15-64-year-olds reported use in 2014-2015.

The most commonly used drugs have remained unchanged. Cannabis is the most prevalent, followed by powder cocaine, 3,4-methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, ketamine and amphetamine.

Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, such as Spice, are widely used in prisons. In Scotland, buprenorphine was the most commonly detected drug in addiction prevalence tests carried out in prisons in 2018-2019.

In 2017, 3284 drug-related deaths occurred in Great Britain. The drug-related mortality rate per million population in Great Britain was the highest on record, at 76 per million. The mortality rate in Scotland was 229 per million in 2017, the highest rate reported in Europe in that year.

The prevalence of hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, who were surveyed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2018, was 54 per cent. This is the highest figure in the past decade. In Scotland, the prevalence reported in 2017-2018 was 57 per cent.

In 2018, 114,752 individuals started drug treatment in England, Scotland and Wales, a decrease from over 122,000 in 2015. Across England and Wales, there were 234,101 people in treatment at any time during 2018.

The drug most commonly associated with initiation of treatment was heroin, with cannabis being the second most common. In Northern Ireland, cannabis was the most common primary substance.