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Graphics: More People in the UK Are Using Drugs, But Addiction Rate Remains Steady


A large-scale survey reveals a wealth of fascinating information about Brits' relationships with drugs.

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More than 15 million people in the UK (about one in three adults), have taken illegal drugs. That means the total participation rate has risen from 27% in 2008 to 31% in 2014, according to the British Drugs Survey 2014, published by the Observer and Guardian newspapers. But although more people are using drugs, the number of people seeking addiction treatment and support has remained steady, suggesting that more Brits than before are practicing non-problematic drug use.

Of all participants in the study, 87% say they don’t have a drug problem; this roughly matches UN estimates that show the large majority of worldwide drug use is non-problematic. Still, around 2 million people in the UK have had a drug problem, the survey estimates. Of these 2 million, nearly half no longer use, while about 1 million more, the survey suggests, continue to use. Male drug users are apparently twice as likely as women to develop a problem at some time in their lives (18% vs. 9%) and users aged 16-24 appear to be at higher risk than older adults.

The survey is presented as a whole series of fascinating graphics, and is definitely worth checking out in full. But below are a few samples—including the information that a large majority of Brits who use drugs obtain them from their friends, not dealers.