68% of respondents
were employed, with an average income overall of £11,
592. Income increased with age by an average of £396
per year. 17% were unemployed. 6 people gave their occupations
as drug dealer; their reported income was very close
to the mean.
of our respondents were school or university students
(the question did not distinguish between them). Students
reported significantly lower levels of drug consumption
than other drug users.
of respondents were from the south of England, 3% were
from abroad. The largest proportion, 39%, lived in towns,
and 24% in inner cities. Around 5% had accommodations
which could not be described as 'private accommodation',
including travellers, homeless and hostel dwellers.
with Home Office statistics for drugs convictions and
cautions in 1994 this sample under-represents the under
20's by between one third and a half, and over-represents
20-30 year olds by between a quarter and a half, which
was highly statistically significant. Our sample significantly
under-represents ethnic minorities compared with the
UK population, and with conviction statistics. However,
it may be that those convicted are not a representative
sample of all drug users, just as they are not of the
general population. Some comparisons made here with
the British Crime Survey (BCS) and Home Office statistics
may be imprecise for reasons apart from the limitations
of our sample. They only cover England and Wales, and
the BCS did not reach the homeless, travellers, or those
living in institutions such as student halls of residence.
Two recent studies of night-club goers wich adopted
a similar targeted strategy to our study, achieving
a near 100% sample of illicit drug users, are perhaps
more appropriate comparisons.
appeared in data gathered by the different sampling
methods. Snowball samples included two separate groups
of university students, reflected in the younger age
and lower cannabis use than other samples. None of these
had used barbiturates, tranquillisers or solvents, and
they had high alcohol use. The direct mail respondents
were significantly older than other groups, and had
lower levels of use of legal drugs. The group returning
festival questionnaires by post had higher levels of
aggregate drug frequency. Although differences were
not significant for individual drugs, when aggregated
the differences between samples in overall frequency
of drug use achieved statistical significance. The general
similarity in responses indicates that the festival
samples were not unrepresentative of regular cannabis
2 - Use of All Drugs
were listed on the questionnaire; tea/coffee (combined),
tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, LSD, "magic" mushrooms,
ecstasy, amphetamine, cocaine, crack, heroin, barbiturates,
tranquillisers, solvents, 'other psychedelics' and the
fictional 'Bliss' as a control. Some respondents specified
their other psychedelics - those they had tried included
mescaline, DMT, Ketamine, Bromo-STP, and several types
of hallucinogenic mushroom other than European psilocybin.
were asked the age they first used each drug, rather
than whether they ever had, as a way of tracking the
historical sequences of their drug taking.
For all drugs
there was a choice of seven usage levels suggested,
from 'used once' to 'more than daily', plus 'never used,
and don't intend to' 'never used, but might try it',
'never heard of it', and 'no longer use it'. Only one
option was logged for each response.
tables of variations in frequency of use, the 'daily'
and 'more than daily' responses from Table 2.1 were
merged as 'daily'. The 'regular but not weekly' and
the 'weekly but not daily' were combined as 'regular
use', and the 'used once' and 'used under 10 times'
as 'experimental use'. This makes comparisons with other
studies on specific drugs more coherent.
study was directed at people who had "used cannabis
or other illegal drugs at least once", it is not surprising
that cannabis was by far the most commonly tried illegal
drug, used at some time by 99.6% of all respondents,
and 95.3% within the previous week, which makes them
'regular drug users' in the terminology of most studies.
LSD was the
second most popular illegal drug ever used, tried at
least once by 76%, with mushrooms tried by 69.5 % and
amphetamines third at 68%. Half had tried ecstasy and
42% cocaine. 14.5% had tried heroin, and 9% crack. These
figures are all much higher than in the general population.
Of the 1992 British Crime Surveys' reported 14% who
had ever used cannabis, 6% had also ever tried any other
illegal drugs - 43% of cannabis users.
of tea/coffee and tobacco plus regular use of alcohol
were the most common patterns, daily users would spend
on average £5 per month on tea & coffee, £32
on tobacco, and £66 on alcohol (regular users £38).
Mean consumption was 5.1 cups per day of tea and coffee,
9 cigarettes per day, and 19 units of alcohol per week.
of respondents may have been prescribed tranquillisers
or depressants, others may have obtained them illicitly,
which will distort the frequency of use and amounts
spent. These were viewed negatively by most respondents,
with few regular users.
since barbiturates are no longer widely available, lifetime
use was much more prevalent among older respondents,
although awareness was low in general.
in five respondents had experimented with solvent abuse,
but very few had continued beyond experimentation.
All but 10
respondents had used cannabis at least once, and of
those 6 were willing to try it. 198 people, around 15%,
had never used any illegal drug except cannabis. The
overall mean monthly cannabis use of the respondents
was 24.8g per month, around 7/8 of an ounce. Consumption
of cannabis by daily users averaged 34.8g per month,
with mean purchase of 64.3g per month. Average spending
was £68.90. The maximum accepted personal consumption
was 200-250g, or 7-9oz per month (10 respondents). Although
one user claimed to consume 4kg this was discounted
as invalid, in view of the inconsistent responses to
other questions. Most of the data on cannabis is discussed
elsewhere in this report (see sections 4 & 5).
of cannabis use were on average slightly lower than
those found by the authors in a similar 1984 population,
and lower than in the study by McBride. Part of the
apparent decrease results from asking how much is used,
rather than bought, in an average month; the mean amount
purchased increased by nearly 50% from 29.3g to 43.6g
people reported daily heroin use out of a total sample
of 1333 users of controlled drugs. Their average reported
monthly spending on heroin was £369.44, although
five individuals spent over £500 per month. The
average would equate to a £10 bag per day, and
the heaviest of these users would be using up to half
a gram per day (Table 2.2). 192 people had ever tried
it, around 14% of the whole sample. It is not likely
that the survey, at a rural pop festival where supplies
of the drug would be uncertain and/or expensive, would
have provided a representative sample of heroin users.
In the Release drugs and dance survey 18% of respondents
at dance events had ever used heroin, and Brannigan
et al found 13% in similar circumstances. In our 1984
survey 23% had used heroin, with 0.5% (3 respondents)
reporting daily heroin use.
suggests that the majority of cocaine users are experimental,
i.e. had used the drug less than 10 times (59%), or
occasional (38%), using the drug less than weekly, often
for special occasions. Fourteen respondents (3% of cocaine
users) considered themselves regular or daily users,
spending an average of just over £60 per month.
Five reported spending in excess of £200, and two
in excess of £1000 per month on the drug, equivalent
to one to two ounces of the drug per month. One person
claimed to spend £21,000 on the drug each month,
although in view of his other responses, this was not
considered to be for personal use.
A small minority
had used crack (119 respondents - 18% of the number
of cocaine users, or 7% of the total sample of drug
users), all except one of whom were experimental or
occasional users. The majority (67%) of crack users
had used the drug less than 10 times. Although most
forms were distributed at a pop festival, which heavy
users of crack may not frequent, 8 of the reported crack
users came from a subsample of 12 respondents recruited
from a drugs advice agency.
Most of those
who had used amphetamine were occasional (63%) or experimental
(30%) users of the drug. The 14 daily users (2%) spent
on average £86.43 per month (equivalent to 10g-30g
at gram/ounce prices) with the heaviest of these spending
£300 to £500 per month on the drug, equivalent
to 85g-500g at ounce/kilo prices (3g to 17g per day).
In the present
authors" 1984 survey, the heaviest spending was
over £100 per month, when average purity was closer
to 20% and at a similar price before inflation. More
1984 respondents had injected amphetamine than heroin.
There was no question on injecting in this survey. These
surveys would under-represent heavier users due to the
relatively small numbers involved.
Morris found that 17% of injecting amphetamine users
surveyed reported spending over £150 per week on
the drug. This would be equivalent to 10-30 grams. Of
amphetamine injectors, 2% spent over £300 per week,
most probably 3 to 4 ounces (84 to 112g), representing
12-16 grams per day of street quality material. In 1985,
Caplin & Woodward found that 11% of primary amphetamine
users spent over £200 per week on the drug, with
3% spending over £250. Oral consumption of up to
8 grams per day is reported by ISDD. Those figures are
broadly consistent with the heaviest users in this survey.
Reported dosages from the literature must be qualified
by the purity of the amphetamine. Typically street quality
"speed" can be under 5% amphetamine powder.
Intravenous use of such low purity material would entail
severe health risks from the contaminants , .
found 14% of the drug users questioned used ecstasy
on a more or less weekly basis, with 3% doing so more
often. Occasional or experimental use was the norm.
Just over 50% of respondents had ever used the drug.
Regular users spent an average £88 per month on
ecstasy, equivalent to 5-11 tablets per month.
levels of use over a single day were reported in the
USA by Beck et al where respondents referred to friends
who used 900mg in one sitting, plus a college student
who claimed to have used 1.25g (equivalent to 10-15
tablets) over a 24 hour period. A further long-term
user would binge on a total of 1.5g (13-18 tablets)
an evening or weekend. The effective limit on bingeing
would appear to be 2-3 days, after which a long recuperation
would be required. In the UK, ISDD report weekend dosages
of up to 20 tablets, and some cases of daily use over
3 to 4 weeks.
quarters of the sample had ever tried LSD; one in eight
would consider themselves to be regular, but not weekly
users. Only 2.2%, 29 people, used LSD weekly or more
often. Very few individuals in this survey would use
hallucinogens on a daily basis, although some may sustain
daily use over a limited period. The questioning of
individuals during a pop festival where LSD was available
(despite the attentions of site security), may well
have somewhat over-represented the number of daily users.
In our 1984
survey, out of 609 respondents, some 374 had used LSD
(61%), 163 on less than ten occasions, and most (203)
on an occasional basis. Only 8 (<1%) then used the
drug weekly or more often, with two daily users. This
compares with a 1971 US study of drug use among arrestees,
which suggested that among the 269 subjects who had
ever used psychedelic drugs (not specified) 35 (13%)
used these drugs daily, and a further 21% weekly or
more often. Arrestees may be unrepresentative of LSD
users - consuming the drug in a more chaotic, and hence
visible, manner would make the user more liable to arrest
than someone using the drug quietly in his/her own home
or at a pop festival - and the unspecific definition
of psychedelic drugs in that study may well refer to
cannabis in addition to the true hallucinogens. In the
Release drugs and dance survey, 78% of respondents at
dance events had ever used LSD. Brannigan et al, for
the London Dance Safety Campaign, found 41%.
consume mushrooms occasionally, monthly or sometimes
weekly, although both this survey and the 1984 survey
found individual users who may consume mushrooms several
times per week, particularly when in season. Estimating
mushroom consumption is limited by the fact that users
do not normally buy them, but pick them from the wild.
This makes the monthly spending data virtually irrelevant.
suggests that the effects of psilocybin become noticeable
at a dose of 4-6mg, with the usual dose being 10-20mg,
or 5 to 10 grams of dried mushroom. Cooper states that
dried Psilocybe Semilanceata contains 0.1 to 0.4 % psilocybin,
and up to 0.2% psilocin, and concluded that 30-40g of
fresh, or 5g of dry mushrooms would be required to produce
an average active dose of 6mg. By these calculations,
5 to 20 grams would be required to produce a high (20mg)
dose of psilocybin and psilocin. Although a novice user
might consume 30-50 mushrooms to produce a "trip",
many experienced users claim to have consumed several
hundred mushrooms at a single sitting. As tolerance
develops to the effects over the short-term, those using
mushrooms more often than weekly will need substantially
higher, and increasing, doses to produce the desired
from cannabis to other drugs
a majority of respondents had tried drugs other than
cannabis, most had only done so a few times. Among the
addictive drugs, only tobacco showed a majority of users
who"d ever tried it still consuming daily or more
often. Among the 192 respondents who had tried heroin,
53% had used the drug either once or less than ten times,
(commonly described as 'experimental use'), and 11.5%
'occasionally'. 21% more said they had ceased using
it. Under 5% of those who'd ever tried it - 9 people
- used heroin daily or more often. For cocaine it was
only 5 users, under 1% of those who"d tried it
- 54% had experimented under 10 times, 26% occasionally,
and 9% had stopped. Crack had 60% "experimental"
use, 15% occasional and only one daily user. Amphetamines
had 27% experimental, 36.5% occasional and 11.5% ex-users,
to 1.5% daily users. The most rejected drug was barbiturates,
no longer used by 29% who ever had, and under 10 times
ever by 45% more. Solvents, tranquillisers, heroin,
and crack all showed that aprox. 21% of those who"d
ever tried them said they no longer used them (Table
drug, Bliss, was added to the questions as a control.
20 people claimed to have experienced Bliss, only one
regularly. This was probably a stoned joke. 337 had
never heard of it, 673 left the question blank. Since
the survey was conducted some reports have indicated
that a drug or variant known as Bliss has appeared on
the UK market, believed to be an analogue or 'brand'
of LSD. This indicates the difficulty of devising bogus
yet convincing names of fictional drugs for the purpose
of survey validation.
who had not tried the various drugs, 'never used - don't
intend to' outnumbered 'not used yet (but might)' for
all drugs except mushrooms and cannabis. The highest
"would never use" figures were for crack,
heroin, and solvents. The most popular drugs not yet
tried were magic mushrooms (28% of non-users), ecstasy
and LSD (19%), other psychedelics, and cocaine. Fewer
non-users would consider using amphetamine (5%), crack
(4%), heroin (3%) or solvents (less than 1%).
The low never
heard of this drug figures indicate respondents had
a wide general level of knowledge of the drug scene.
Bliss and barbiturates were the only drugs any significant
number were ignorant of. Barbiturates are no longer
widely available, so this may be age-related, but may
also be distorted by using the formal rather than street
names, as also with "heroin" rather than smack,
skag, etc., and possibly crack, also known as rocks.
half of all respondents did not answer the questions
about use levels of other psychedelics, crack, bliss,
barbiturates, tranquillisers, solvents or heroin.
for the frequency of use of each drug were correlated,
the highest coefficient was between LSD and mushrooms,
with high correlations between amphetamines and LSD
and ecstasy, and ecstasy and LSD and cocaine. Cannabis
correlated to a lesser degree with mushrooms, LSD and
ecstasy (Table 2.4).
no evidence for progression from regular cannabis use
to regular use of any other drug, though there appears
to be some for a progression to experimental use, particularly
with hallucinogens. Responses on Bliss show that 3%
of those who answered might be willing to experiment
with this completely unknown, in fact non-existent,
substance, and 44% would never do so. Responses for
heroin and crack from those who had never used them
indicate 92% would never try them, and 0.7% might do
so. Well publicised dangers and low social acceptability
seem to be better deterrents than ignorance of drugs.
spending on drugs was by the very small numbers of daily
or more frequent heroin users, at nearly £370 per
month. However, there were not enough daily users of
cocaine or crack to make a comparison. Cannabis spending
was second highest among daily users, at £96/month.
Among the 'regular but not daily' users, heroin and
ecstasy were the drugs costing users most, at £85/month,
with cocaine costing £61, alcohol £38, and
cannabis £32/month (Table 2.2).
accounted for 42% of all the money spent on all drugs
per month, the market share. The legal drugs, alcohol
and tobacco, accounted for 37% more (Table 2.3).
very few significant regional variations in frequencies
of use of any drug, and their significance was small
(Table 2.5). This differs from the 1992 British Crime
Survey, which found the percentage who had ever used
cannabis significantly higher among people living in
London, but few regional variations in use of other
drugs. This may suggest frequency of use to be independent
of prevalence in any area.
of Drug Use
illegal use of drugs for a majority was under-age tobacco
and/or alcohol use, which both commonly began between
ages 12-14. The peak age of initial use was 15-16 for
cannabis, 15-18 for the psychedelics and amphetamine,
and 18-20 for heroin, cocaine and crack. Only crack
and ecstasy had large numbers who first tried them after
the age of 25 - possibly because these drugs were not
widely available in the UK when they were younger.
has been expressed that many of today"s cannabis
users became involved in the 1960's and early '70s when
cannabis use had a particular ideological significance
(Mott 1984). However, although 20% of respondents were
aged over 30, the highest number were between 20 and
24. This may be an artefact of the sampling procedure
due to the average ages of festival goers, however it
roughly matches the British Crime Survey data that drug
taking was highest among 16 to 29 year olds. The peak
age of initiation to cannabis use is 16, and most who
do so will have tried the drug before 20 years of age.
The peak years of initiation were 1989-92, though it
is probable that those who first used the drug more
recently are under represented with the apparent tail
off in 1992-4 being a sampling artefact. The peak years
of first use for all other drugs except alcohol and
tobacco were in the 1990"s.
of people who first used cannabis in any given year
between 1973-91, and the numbers convicted or cautioned
for cannabis offences in the same years, correlate very
closely (p< 0.0001, r = 0.89). More people started
using in the years when more legal action took place.
Both might be linked to availability, both police and
aspiring users finding cannabis easier to get hold of
in some years. Whatever the cause of these simultaneous
trends, the close correlation seems to indicate that
na"ve users are not deterred by police action against
use and Employment Status
the most commonly used sub-population in drugs studies,
consistently use less of all drugs except alcohol, on
average, and spend less on them, than employed or unwaged
people. Students users smoke less cannabis, roll less
joints, and pay more for what they use per gram. This
does not seem to be income - related, as the unwaged
reported lower incomes on average, yet took more drugs
overall. The unwaged were on average the most frequent
users of the legal drugs, amphetamines, and heroin.
They were less likely to use ecstasy than workers. Otherwise,
we found no significant differences between the employed
and unemployed. Among the 69% who were employed, we
found no significant differences in patterns of use
related to type of employment. Those who refused or
failed to state their occupation tended on average to
be higher users of all drugs (Table 2.7).
On the basis
of these results, findings from studies of student drug
use cannot easily be extrapolated to describe all drug