Patterns of illicit drug use in each UK country analysed in annual report

An overview of illicit drug use across the whole of the UK in 2016 has been published by the UK Focal Point on Drugs, who are based within Public Health England.

The ‘United Kingdom Drug Situation: Focal Point Annual Report 2016’ has collated data across all four home nations and includes specific analysis of policy, prevention, treatment, drug-related deaths, infectious diseases and drug markets.

Key points relating to the UK as a whole:

  • Prevalence in the general population is lower now than ten years ago, with cannabis being the main driver of that reduction. However, there has been little change in recent years.
  • Seizures data suggests that herbal cannabis has come to dominate the market. While resin was involved in around two-thirds of cannabis seizures in 2000, it was involved in only five per cent in 2015/16.
  • Using the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) definition, which refers to deaths caused directly by the consumption of at least one illicit drug, the total number of drug-related deaths in the UK during 2014 was 2,655; a five per cent increase from 2013 and the highest number reported to date.
  • Over the last decade the average age of death has increased from 37.6 years in 2004 to 41.6 in 2014, with males being younger than females (40.3 years and 44.6 years respectively). The largest proportion of deaths in the UK in 2014 was in the 40–44 years age group.
  • There were 124,234 treatment presentations in the UK in 2015. This total includes for the first time, data from individuals presenting to treatment services in prisons in England.
  • Benzodiazepines were cited as a primary problem substance in far greater proportion of cases in Scotland and Northern Ireland than in England or Wales, whereas Wales had a far higher proportion of clients citing amphetamines/methamphetamines than in any of the other countries.
  • National Take-Home Naloxone programmes continue to supply naloxone to those exiting prison in Scotland and Wales: there were 932 kits issued by NHS staff in prisons in Scotland, and 146 in Wales, in 2015/16.
  • There were 50 new diagnoses of HIV among people who inject drugs reported from Scotland, compared with 17 in 2014. This increase was due to an outbreak of HIV in people who inject drugs in Glasgow.

Click here to view the report in full.