Latest trends in drug use across England and Wales

Latest trends in drug use across England and Wales

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) taken from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2.7% of adults aged 16-59 reported using ‘party drugs’ such as ecstasy and nitrous oxide in the year ending June 2022.

The figure marks a slight drop in usage, down from 3.4% in the year ending March 2020.

However, it is thought that government restrictions on social contact during the Covid-19 pandemic may have played a significant part, as some Class A substances like nitrous oxide and ecstasy (MDMA) are often taken during social situations, such as at festivals, concerts, and nightclubs.

And there is speculation that this figure may start to rise again now that these restrictions are no longer in place.

In addition to the findings regarding the use of Class A drugs, the report, titled Drug misuse in England and Wales: year ending June 2022, also found that:

  • Drug use in the past year was highest among adults aged 20-24
  • 1 in 5 young people aged 16-24 (approx. 1.1m people) have used drugs in the past 12 months
  • 2.6% of 16 to 59-year-olds are frequent drug users, using them more than once a month
  • Cannabis remains the most used drug in England and Wales, with 16.2% of 16 to 59-year-olds having used it in the past year

Additionally, of those people who reported being drug users, those in higher income households (earning £52,000 or more per year) were more likely to use a Class A drugs than those in lower income households (earning less than £10,400 per year).

What are Class A drugs?

Under UK law, drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 are split into three separate categories – Class A, Class B and Class C drugs.

How different substances are classified depends on how harmful they are deemed to be. For example, drugs in the Class A category are considered to be the most dangerous, both in terms of their broader societal impact, and the risk of developing a dependency while using them.  

This means that offences relating to the manufacture, possession and supply of Class A drugs typically carry the harshest punishments.

Examples of Class A drugs include:

Crack cocaine LSD
Cocaine Magic mushrooms
Ecstasy (MDMA) Methadone
Heroin Methamphetamine (crystal meth)

A person caught in possession of any of these substances could face up to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

However, the penalty for dealing or supplying Class A drugs will usually be more severe, depending on a person’s previous criminal record, and how the drugs are being distributed. 

Where can I buy a drug test?

AlphaBiolabs is one of the UK’s leading drug testing laboratories, offering 100% accurate, reliable drug testing for members of the public, the legal profession, and the workplace sector.

Our UKAS-accredited laboratory is equipped to test a variety of samples for the presence of drugs and their metabolites, including urine, oral fluid (saliva), hair and nails.

We have also invested in the very latest technology in our toxicology laboratory, employing top scientists, so you can be confident of receiving results you can trust.

Here are a few examples of who might need a drug test:

Unsure which drug test is best for you? Call our friendly, knowledgeable Customer Services team now on 0333 600 1300 or email to discuss your requirements.

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