Drug use statistics for 2015/16 have been published


Around one in 12 adults aged 16 to 59 (8.4%) have taken an illegal drug in 2015/16 - equal to around 2.7 million people, according to official figures.

But that number jumps to one in five among 16 to 24 year olds, which works out at 18% of that population. The Crime Survey for England and Wales figures are similar to what they were a year ago, but show a decline in substance misuse over the past decade - 25.2% of those aged 16 to 24 had taken a drug in the past year when surveyed in 2005/06.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug, with 6.5% of 16 to 59 year olds having consumed it in the past year - a number that jumps to 15.8% among 16 to 24 year olds. The figure among young people is still far lower than the proportion a decade ago of 21.4%. In 1996 it stood at 25.8%.

A general view of Cannabis plants being cultivated in a hydroponics factory

Powder cocaine is the next most popular drug among 16 to 59 year olds, but with 16 to 24 year olds it's ecstasy. Proportional use for these drugs has remained similar to the 2014/15 survey.

Meanwhile, 37% of all cannabis users in the UK were classed as "frequent" users, more than any other drug, and 4.7% of young adults were classed as frequent users of any drug, compared to 3.3% of 16 to 59 year olds.

Other findings from the statistics, published by the Home Office, show that people in urban areas are more likely to have used drugs in the past year than people living in rural areas. This is a difference of one in 11 to one in 16, while the 8.2% of people in the South West who have used cannabis in the past year makes that area the UK's cannabis capital. People in London take the most cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

Mock-up pictue of a cocaine.

Cocaine and ecstasy use has jumped among people from wealthier households in England and Wales. In 2015/16, 3% of those aged 16 to 59 from households with incomes of at least £50,000 reported taking powder cocaine in the previous year - up from 2.2% in 2014/15.

The proportion in the category who had used ecstasy in the preceding 12 months was 2.2% - up from 1.5%. Both were "statistically significant" increases.

By contrast, use of the two Class A drugs among those from lower-income households were either down or flat year-on-year.

Meanwhile, it emerged that drug use among women has plunged to the lowest level in at least 20 years. One in 20 women aged between 16 and 59 reported using any illicit substance in the previous year. This was the lowest level recorded since the current records started in 1996. Drug use among women peaked in 2000 and 2003/4, when it was at 8.8%.

You can check out the full report here.