The Drugs Survey
In winter 2005 we asked you about drugs. Do you take them?If so what are your experiences? From puffs on joints to injections of heroin, here's what you had to say.
- Over 300 people participated in the survey
- The largest percentage of people responding lived in London or the South East
- Nearly two thirds of the respondents were women
- 18 to 19 year-olds were the best-represented age group
- About 6% of those taking part were under 16 and another 17% were over 25
Over two-thirds of you (71%) have used recreational drugs at some point. But which ones? Do you use them regularly, and what you might be tempted to use in the future?
Cannabis is by far the most popular drug, with 96% of you owning up to trying it at least once, and 14% using it several times a week.
Ecstasy has also been dabbled with by 51% of you, with 11% using it on a monthly and 1% more than once a week.
Cocaine is the third most widely used drug. 46% have used it at some point, while 8% use it at least once a month.
44% have tried speed and 39% have tried mushrooms. However, evidence of regular use of either drugs was relatively low. On a monthly basis, only 2% use speed and 1% use mushrooms.
The least used drug is heroin which has been used by 3% of you. This is closely followed by GHB (4%), crack (5%) and crystal meth (9%).
Which prescribed drugs have you used recreationally?
- Valium: 8%
- Ritalin: 5%
- Temazepam: 3%
- Codeine: 4%
- Diazepam: 3%
- Anti-depressants: 1%
- Ketamine: 1%
- Xanax: 1%
50% of you who have already tried drugs said you wouldn't like to try any new ones. The other 50% are willing to experiment with a wide range of drugs, with hallucinogenics proving to be the most appealing. 15% would like to try mushrooms and 14% would like to try LSD (also known as acid), while 7% would like to try ketamine and cocaine.
The majority of you who have never taken drugs (82%) have no desire to try any in the future. 7% would like to try cannabis and 5% would like to try speed.
82% of those who have never taken drugs have no desire to try any in the future. 7% would like to try cannabis and 5% would like to try speed.
How much money do you spend per week on drugs?
- I don't buy any: 55%
- Less than £10: 17%
- £10 to £20: 13%
- £20-£30: 7%
- £30-£50: 3%
- £50-100: 2%
- £250-£500: 1%
- Over £500 a week: 1%
The results are based on the answers from the 71% of you who have tried drugs.
Ups and downs
Taking drugs has led to a wide range of high and low experiences. 23% of you referred to ecstasy in your accounts of your best experiences. While one person described taking ecstasy with friends and feeling unbelievably happy, another recalled being high on ecstasy and loving everyone around me while hallucinating that everybody had Maori face tattoos."
Many of you described positive experiences related to taking drugs, including laughing, clubbing, chatting, dancing, hallucinating and having sex. As well as emphasising your wide range of experiences related to a variety of drugs, you also highlighted the fact that experiences of drug-taking can be varied depending on the individual and the situation they're in. While one person recalled laying in bed with the girlfriend chilling with a joint," another remembered an incident where they were very stoned at a party and laughed for about four hours.
On the downside, the majority of your negative experiences have related to the physical and mental effects of taking drugs.
Top five bad experiences
- Sickness: 14%
- Paranoia: 7%
- Come downs: 7%
- Bad trip: 6%
- Side effects such as palpitations: 5%
Several of you told us about the specific drugs you relate to bad experiences which include cannabis (6%), cocaine (4%), ecstasy, (4%), LSD (4%) and mushrooms (3%). We also honed in on specific incidents including one person's account of a particularly negative reaction to solvents: I thought my head was gonna explode I felt like I was dying." Another respondent told us about their comedown from speed: I thought everyone was flashing their headlights at me and that everyone in the pub was staring."
Out of character
43% of you think it's common for people to do things on drugs they wouldn't do normally. Within this percentage, one in five has been involved in sexual antics which they would have avoided had they not been taking drugs. These include having sex with an ex-partner and having sex while friends were in the same room. You also told us about more bizarre actions that you wouldn't have done if you were sober, including dancing on the spot for hours at a time and riding a tricycle while wearing only boxer shorts. One person believed they could float down a hillside with the support of an umbrella a la Mary Poppins.
In the know
About two-thrids (66%) have researched information about drugs you using the following sources:
- Internet/websites: 50%
- TheSite.org: 30%
- Erowid: 21%
- Friends: 11%
- Frank: 8%
- Other: 7%
- Books: 6%
- Google: 5%
- Bluelight: 2%
While many of you are keen to do your homework on drugs, 5% of you who have taken drugs have actually told a teacher you do so. 11% have told a GP (doctor), 46% have told parents, 55% have told a brother or sister and 57% have told a partner.
Many of you worry about how drugs could affect your mental and physical health. (see below for overall reactions). However, there were certain effects that those of you who haven't tried drugs are more worried about than those who have, such as becoming addicted to drugs. 50% who have tried drugs were worried about addiction, while a much bigger proportion (89%) of those who haven't tried them were concerned about getting hooked. Those of you who haven't tried drugs were also much more anxious about getting caught out by people they know. 48% of those who've never taken drugs expressed this concern compared to just 28% of those who have taken drugs.
What worries you about taking drugs?
- The effect on my mental health: 75%
- The effect on my physical health: 65%
- Becoming addicted to drugs: 60%
- Being caught by the police: 55%
- The cost of drugs: 39%
- Being caught using by people you know: 34%
There was also a distinction between which drugs you would and wouldn't use depending on whether or not you have tried drugs before. 69% of drug virgins would never use any drugs, while only 15% of those who've already used them say the same thing. A much higher proportion of you who have tried drugs were concerned about heroin (59%) compared to a smaller number (13%) of those who haven't used drugs before. 32% who have taken drugs would never use crack, while a mere 3% who haven't tried drugs don't want to ever touch it. 7% of all respondents would never take ecstasy.
Which drugs do you consider to be dangerous?
- Heroin: 95%
- Crack: 93%
- Crystal meth: 89%
- Solvents: 89%
- Ketamine: 75%
Cannabis caused the largest discrepancy between the views of those who have taken drugs and those who haven't. 5% of those who have believe that cannabis is dangerous, while a much larger 43% of those who haven't believe this to be true. The only drug that those who have used are more wary of than those who haven't is solvents which is 90% compared to 85%.
If you could change one thing about the current drug laws, what would it be?
Responses from people who have taken drugs
- Wouldn't change laws:11%
- Harder penalties:7%
- More drugs should be illegal:6%
- Better education:4%
- Clear up confusion surrounding laws:2%
- Everything: 1%
Response from people who haven't taken taken drugs
- Tougher laws: 53%
- Legalisation/relaxing of laws: 21%
- Don't know: 7%
- More emphasis on counselling or treatment: 5%
- More education: 3%
One in five of you have had an encounter with the police whilst using drugs, but that hasn't necessarily led to you getting into trouble with them. Here's what's happened to you when the fuzz has caught up with you?
- We just had a chat: 24%
- I was arrested: 15%
- I was searched and caught: 10%
- I had to run away from them: 7%
- I was searched but not caught: 7%
- I was pulled over: 7%
- I was never caught: 5%
- I've been accused of dealing: 2%
- I was stopped at the border: 2%