Survation / Daily Mirror – What of the “War on Drugs” ?
75% of British people agree we have “lost the war” on illegal drugs.
Based on findings from our poll, at least 1.4 million British adults have likely taken illegal drugs this week, 3% of the adult population. Meanwhile 29% of people, equivalent to 14.5 million adults in the UK population, admitted to taking illegal drugs at some point in their lives, mostly many years in their past. By far the most common drug reported taken was cannabis, with 94% of those with a history of drug use having tried it at some point. The next most common drugs were amphetamines (39%), ecstasy (31%) and powder cocaine (30%).
When asked when they tried drugs for the first time, nearly 80% reported taking drugs before the age of 22, with most being either in their student years (18-21: 34%) or during their mid teens (15-17: 35%), though some people reported taking drugs at as young as age 11. By far the most common reason given for starting was ‘curiosity/experimentation’ (42%), followed by ‘relaxation’ (14%) and ‘made nights out more fun’ (14%). Only 11% reported ‘wanting to fit in with friends who took drugs’ as their primary reason for starting.
Nearly three quarters – 73% – of respondents who had used drugs said they had gotten them from a friend, with almost all of the remainder buying them from dealers. 35% of this group reported concerns that the drugs they took may have been contaminated by other substances. 15% of users reported suffering adverse health effects at some point in their lives as a result of drug use.
70% of the general public believe that Class A drugs should NOT be decriminalised against 22% who do, though the figures for Class B drugs are closer at 51% against and 40% in favour, with no significant difference between the views of men and women. 60% of people that had tried drugs at some point in their lives were in favour of decriminalisation of at least Class B drugs, versus 33% against.
Only 9% of people expressed any indication that they would be more likely to take drugs even if they were legally available, rising to 12% if regulated dealers were to supply drugs that were guaranteed not to be contaminated.
Despite this general opposition to decriminalisation of Class A or B drugs, the public on balance seem to believe that decriminalisation would have its benefits – 39% of the public thought crime would go down if drugs were legally available, versus 29% who thought it would go up.