Publication - Research and analysis

2010/11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Drug Use

Published: 27 Mar 2012
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781780457178

This report presents findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010/11 Drug Use module. The report provides information on the experience and prevalence of illicit drug use amongst the general adult population in Scotland.

83 page PDF

1.0 MB

83 page PDF

1.0 MB

Contents
2010/11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Drug Use
Executive Summary

83 page PDF

1.0 MB

Executive Summary

Introduction

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) is a large-scale continuous survey measuring people's experience and perceptions of crime in Scotland, based on approximately 13,000 in-home face-to-face interviews conducted annually with adults (aged 16 or over) living in private households in Scotland. The results are presented in a series of reports including this report on the extent of self-reported illicit drug use. The 2010/11 survey is the third year of the SCJS, with the first being conducted in 2008/09, although crime and victimisation surveys have been carried out in Scotland since the early 1980s.

Information on experience of illicit drug use was collected through the self-completion section of the questionnaire, which was completed by 10,999 (85%) of the 13,010 respondents to the main SCJS questionnaire.

This report identifies the extent of self-reported illicit drug use ever, in the last year and in the last month and examines the experience of first drug use and drug use in the last month by adults aged 16 or over.

Prevalence of illicit drug use in Scotland

Self-reported drug use

The SCJS 2010/11 estimated that:

  • Almost one in four (23.7%) adults in Scotland, aged 16 years and over, had taken one or more illicit drug at some point in their lives, even if it was a long time ago;
  • 6.6% of adults had used one or more illicit drug in the last year, i.e. the 12 months prior to the survey interview;
  • 3.5% of adults had used one or more illicit drug in the last month, i.e. the month prior to the survey interview.

Types of drugs reported

Cannabis was by far the most commonly reported drug in any of the 3 time periods asked about:

  • 21.6% of adults had taken cannabis at some point in their lives;
  • Around one in seventeen (5.6%) adults reported using cannabis in the last year;
  • 3.0% of adults reported using cannabis in the last month.

The next most common drugs that adults reported they had ever taken were:

  • Amphetamines (7.8%);
  • Ecstasy (7.2%);
  • Cocaine (7.1%);
  • Poppers (6.4%).

Cocaine and ecstasy were the next most commonly reported drugs used after cannabis in the last year (1.9% and 1.4% respectively) and in the last month (0.7% and 0.6% respectively).

Demographic variations

Men reported higher levels of illicit drug use than women including:

  • Around three in ten (29.1%) men reported taking an illicit drug at some point in their lives compared with just under two in ten (18.7%) women;
  • The percentage of men (9.5%) who reported using one or more illicit drug in the last year was more than twice as high as the percentage of women (3.9%) who reported this;
  • 5.3% of men compared with 1.8% of women reported the use of one or more illicit drug in the last month.

The prevalence of self-reported illicit drug use by adults at some point in their lives was most common amongst the 16-24 and 25-44 age groups (37.2% and 38.1% respectively). Reported use of illicit drugs in the last year and in the last month was higher for 16-24 year olds (20.3% and 9.8% respectively) than for 25-44 year olds (9.2% and 5.1% respectively). Reported drug use was lower for all time periods among 45-59 year olds and decreased further among those aged 60 or over.

Trends in self-reported drug use over time

Self-reported drug use among adults aged 16 or over in Scotland has decreased between 2008/09 and 2010/11. 6.6% of adults reported using drugs in the last year in 2010/11 compared with 7.2% in 2009/10 and 7.6% in 2008/09. Similarly 3.5% of adults reported using drugs in the last month in 2010/11 compared with 4.2% of adults in 2009/10 and 4.4% of adults in 2008/09. These decreases are statistically significant.

In 2010/11, fewer adults self-reported that they had used ecstasy in the last year (1.4%) compared with 2009/10 (1.9%) and 2008/09 (1.8%).

A significantly lower percentage of adults reported taking cocaine in the last year in the SCJS 2010/11 (1.9%) compared with in 2008/09 (2.7%). Cocaine use in the last year has remained stable between 2009/10 (2.1%) and 2010/11.

Prevalence of drug use among adults aged 16-59 in the last year has steadily decreased from that reported in the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) in 2006. 12.6% of adults reported using drugs in the last year in 2006 compared to 10.3% in the SCJS 2008/09, 9.8% in the SCJS 2009/10 and 9.1% in the SCJS 2010/11.

Compared to 2008/09, drug use in the last year among 16-24 year olds has reduced from 23.5% to 20.3% in 2010/11. Drug use in the last year among adults aged 16-24 has remained stable between 2009/10 (20.2%) and 2010/11.

Trends in self-reported drug use in Scotland compared with England and Wales

The percentage of 16-59 year olds reporting they had taken any illicit drug at some point in their lives was lower in Scotland than across England and Wales.

In contrast, the percentage of 16-59 year olds taking any illicit drug in the last year or last month was similar in Scotland to England and Wales.

Being offered drugs

Around one in nine (11.6%) adults reported that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year.

  • 43.4% of those offered an illicit drug in the last year had used an illicit drug in the last year and 55.9% had not.

The percentage of adults being offered drugs in the last year has decreased between 2008/09 and 2010/11. 11.6% of adults in Scotland reported that they had been offered drugs in the last year in 2010/11 compared to 13.7% in 2008/09 and 12.9% in 2009/10.

The experience of adults reporting drug use

Drug most commonly reported

Of adults, who had used at least one illicit drug at some point in their lives, almost three in ten (27.8%) reported using at least one drug in the last year.

  • More than eight in ten (83.6%) of those who had used any illicit drug in the last year had used cannabis in that time.

Of those who had used any illicit drug in the last year, around half (51.5%) had used an illicit drug in the last month.

  • Almost nine in ten (87.2%) of those who had used any illicit drug in the last month had used cannabis in that time.

Of adults who reported that they had used any drugs in the last month, four in five (80.2%) reported cannabis as the drug they had taken most often in that period.

Frequency of drug use

Half (49.1%), of those adults who reported using an illicit drug in the last month, had used their only / most frequently used drug on at least a weekly basis, including around a quarter (24.3%) who had done so every day or almost every day.

Dependency on drugs

Of those who had used an illicit drug in the last month, almost a quarter (24.4%) reported that they had felt dependent on the drug they used most often in the last month while over seven in ten (73.7%) said they had not.

Three in ten (29.7%) said they had tried to cut down on their use of the drug they used most often in the last month, but found they could not, while over two thirds (67.3%) said they had not tried to cut down.

Around one in eight (12.7%) of those who had used an illicit drug in the last month had, in that period, felt dependent on the drug they used most often in the last month and had tried to cut down on its use, but found they could not.

Polydrug use / mixing alcohol and drugs among recent users

Over a third (34.3%) of adults who had used at least one illicit drug in the last month reported some kind of polydrug use involving that drug ever:

  • Over seven in ten (73.0%) of those who had ever mixed the drug they used most often in the last month with any other drug, had ever mixed other drugs with cannabis, reflecting the predominance of that drug as the drug used most often in the last month.
  • Other drugs that adults were most likely to have ever mixed with the drug they used most often in the last month were ecstasy (52.5%) or cocaine (50.0%) which reflects the drugs most commonly reported in the survey.

Of the adults who had used at least one illicit drug in the last month, the majority (84.6%) reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives while taking the drug they had used most often in the last month.

First drug use

Late teens (16-19 years) was the most common age for first using drugs. Of the adults who had ever used drugs, over half (51.3%) reported first trying illicit drugs at this age. A quarter (24.7%) of those who had ever used drugs first tried them when they were under 16.

Reflecting its dominance, cannabis was the first drug tried by more than three quarters (78.3%) of those who had ever used any illicit drug.


Contact

Email: Stuart King