British ‘get drunk’ more regularly than other nationalities

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British people who drink get drunk more regularly than other nationalities, according to the latest Global drug survey. Respondents in the UK reported getting drunk 51 times a year, compared to an average of 33 times.

Participants from other English speaking countries such as the US, Canada and Australia also reported getting drunk regularly – at 50, 48 and 47 times a year respectively – while those in Chile reported getting drunk 16 times per year. Almost 40 per cent of participants who drank alcohol in the previous 12 months said they wanted to drink less in future.

The survey was compiled from data from just under 124,000 people across more than 30 countries. Almost 60 per cent of respondents were male and 87 per cent were white, with a mean age of 29. Sixty per cent said they went clubbing at least four times a year.

Of the 20,000 people who completed the section on cocaine use, less than 9 per cent reported using the drug on a weekly basis, but 65 per cent said they’d used it up to ten times in the previous year. Just over 1 per cent had needed to seek emergency medical treatment following cocaine use, while more than 70 per cent of those who’d recently used it said they would support a ‘regulated fair-trade’ market, with most willing to pay more.

Use of MDMA powder, meanwhile, is now as common as ecstasy pills, although almost three quarters of people who took MDMA reported doing so on ten or fewer occasions. Use of the ‘dark net’ to buy drugs was also on the rise, with more than a quarter of people who’d bought drugs that way doing so for the first time in 2018. MDMA, LSD and cannabis were the most frequently purchased substances.

One third of female respondents reported having been taken advantage of sexually at some point while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and 8 per cent within the last year – the rates for men were 6 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Alcohol was involved in almost 90 per cent of overall cases.

Of the more than 52,000 respondents who completed the survey’s policing section, almost a quarter reported that they had ‘encountered police’ in relation to their drug use in the last year, including stop and search, roadside testing and use of drug dogs. People in Australia and Denmark were most likely to have had dealings with the police, and those in New Zealand the least.

Most people, however, had favourable attitudes towards the police, the document states. ‘For example 50 per cent of respondents (who are all people who use drugs) said police frequently/somewhat frequently treat people with dignity and respect. But those who have been recently policed had less favourable attitudes, and were less likely to report they would help the police if asked.’

Dr Edward Day, the government’s new recovery champion

Meanwhile, Dr Edward Day has been appointed as the government’s drug recovery champion, the Home Office has announced. Dr Day is clinical reader in addiction psychiatry at the University of Birmingham and a consultant psychiatrist, and has helped develop national clinical guidance for the substance field. He will agree an ‘annual delivery plan for drug recovery’ with ministers, support collaboration between partners such as councils, housing organisations and criminal justice, and aim to tackle issues such as stigma. ‘His work will make a real difference to the lives of those suffering the misery of drug dependency,’ said home secretary Sajid Javid.

Survey results at www.globaldrugsurvey.com

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