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Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010/11: Drug Use

27/03/2012

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2010/11: Drug Use report.

The publication presents statistics on adults’ experiences of illicit drug use and covers self-reported drug use in the last month, the last year and ever.

The report also examines frequency of drug use, perceived dependency on drugs, access to drugs, polydrug use and age of first use amongst adults in Scotland.

The main findings are:

Comparing self-reported drug use in 2010–11 with 2009–10 and 2008–09

  • Drug use in Scotland has decreased between 2008–09 and 2010–11. 
  • 6.6 per cent of adults reported using drugs in the last year in 2010/11 compared with 7.2 per cent in 2009–10 and 7.6 per cent in 2008–09.  The decrease between 2010–11 and 2008–09 is statistically significant at 95 per cent levels.
  • Similarly 3.5 per cent of adults reported using drugs in the last month in 2010/11 compared with 4.2 per cent of adults in 2009–10 and 4.4 per cent of adults in 2008–09.  The decrease between 2010–11 and both 2008–09 and 2009–10 is statistically significant at 95 per cent levels.
  • In 2010–11 1.9 per cent of adults reported taking cocaine in the last year compared with 2.1 per cent in 2009–10 and 2.7 per cent in 2008–09. 

Illicit drug use in Scotland 2010–11

  • Cannabis was the drug adults most commonly reported using. 5.6 per cent of adults reported using cannabis in the last year, and 3.0 per cent reported using cannabis in the last month.
  • Cocaine and ecstasy were the next most commonly reported drugs used after cannabis in the last year (1.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively) and in the last month (0.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively).
  • Men reported higher levels of illicit drug use than women with almost one in ten (9.5 per cent) men reported using one or more illicit drug in the last year compared with 3.9 per cent of women. 5.3 per cent of men compared with 1.8% of women reported that they had taken one or more illicit drug in the last month.

Being offered drugs

Around one in nine adults (11.6 per cent) reported that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one illicit drug in the last year. 43.4 per cent of those offered drugs last year reported that they had used drugs in the last year.

Frequency of drug use

Nearly half (49.1 per cent) of those who had used drugs in the last month had taken their most frequently used drug on at least a weekly basis, including around a quarter (24.3 per cent) who had done so every day or almost every day.

Dependency on drugs

  • Of those adults who had used an illicit drug in the last month (3.5 per cent of all adults), 24.4 per cent reported that they had felt dependent on the drug they used most often in the last month while 73.7 per cent said they had not felt dependent.
  • 29.7 per cent of those using drugs in the last month 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.

Polydrug use (i.e. mixing drugs with other drugs or alcohol)

  • Over a third of adults (34.3 per cent) who had used at least one illicit drug in the last month reported that at some point in their lives they had used that drug alongside other drugs or alcohol.
  • The majority (84.6 per cent) of adults who had used at least one illicit drug in the last month 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

  • 51.3 per cent of adults who had ever used drugs, reported that they had first used drugs when they were aged between 16-19 years.
  • 24.7 per cent of adults who reported that they had ever used drugs first tried them when they were under 16 years of age.
  • 78.3 per cent of those who had ever used drugs reported that cannabis was the first drug they had used.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) is a large-scale survey measuring people’s experiences and perceptions of crime in Scotland, based on face-to-face interviews conducted with adults (aged 16 or over) living in private households in Scotland. Information on experience of illicit drug use was collected through the self-completion section of the questionnaire, which was completed by 10,999 (85 per cent) of the 13,010 respondents, who answered the main SCJS questionnaire.

Self-reporting drug surveys are valuable in providing information on illicit drug use among the adult population as a whole. However, there may be an under-representation of some groups who take drugs. The survey may under-represent those whose drug use is problematic or chaotic, some of whom may live in accommodation not covered by a survey of private households (for example, hostels, prisons and student halls of residence) and some of whom may live in private households covered by the survey, yet who may rarely be at home or able to take part in an interview due to the nature of their lives.
 

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