Drug Awareness Research (Part I)


In this research I will be looking at more background information to do with drugs. Where they come from, How they are being sold,  and Who is taking them, etc…

Statistics: Who is taking drugs?

The latest statistics from the Home Office Crime Survey for England and Wales 2015/16 suggest that among people aged 16-59, use of most drugs has been decreasing for several years, and is around the lowest since measurements began in 1996.

  • Around 1 in 12 (8.4%) of adults aged 16 to 59 had taken a drug in the last year. This is around 2.7 million people. This level of drug use is similar to the 2014/15 survey (8.6%), but significantly lower than a decade ago (10.5% in the 2005/06 survey).
  • Over one-third (35.0%) of adults aged 16 to 59 had taken drugs at some point during their lifetime.
  • As in previous years, cannabis was the most commonly used drug, with 6.5% of adults aged 16 to 59 having used it in the last year (around 2.1 million people)
  • Among younger adults aged 16 to 24, cannabis was also the most commonly used drug, with 15.8% having used it in the last year (around 975,000 young adults).
  • As in recent years, the next most commonly used drug after cannabis among adults aged 16 to 59 was powder cocaine (2.2% in the 2015/16 survey, equating to around 725,000 people). By contrast, powder cocaine is the third most commonly used drug among young adults aged 16 to 24 (4.4% or 274,000 young adults) after cannabis and ecstasy. There have been decreases in the frequent use of powder cocaine and ecstasy.
  • The level of last year ecstasy use by adults aged 16 to 59 in the 2015/16 survey (1.5%, or 492,000 people) was similar to the previous year (1.7%), and to that seen a decade ago.
  • LSD use fell, driven largely by a fall among young adults aged 16 to 24.
  • Mephedrone use fell, driven largely by a fall among young adults aged 16 to 24.
  • Ketamine use fell among 16 to 59 year olds, from 0.5 to 0.3 per cent. The 2015/16 Home Office showed that around 94,000 adults had used ketamine in the last year.
  • Steroid use fell from 0.5% to 0.1% of 16 to 24 year olds (equating to around 4,000 young adults who had used anabolic steroids in the last year).
  • The 2015/16 survey estimated that in the last year 7.5% of adults aged 16 to 59 had taken a prescription-only painkiller not prescribed to them: 7.4% (around 2.4 million adults) said that they had taken the painkillers purely for medical reasons, while a small proportion (0.2%, or 33,000 adults) said it was just for the feeling or experience it gave them.
  • 3.3% of all adults aged 16 to 59 were classed as frequent drug users. This equated to around 1.1 million people.



Powder Cocaine


Ecstasy pills:



infographics.jpgDifferent reasons why people are taking drugs!

1. Some drugs are legal – Alcohol and nicotine are not only both legal drugs but they are the most commonly abused drugs.

2. They get a Prescription for drugs – There is a huge misconception that just because a doctor prescribed drugs they are safe. Prescription drugs are every bit as dangerous and addictive as street drugs like cocaine and heroin.

3.Going against the grain – Young adults and teenagers often start to abuse drugs because they are not sure where they fit in. Rebelling by abusing drugs and alcohol is not uncommon among young adults. What can start off as “fun” and “recreational” can quickly turn into an uncontrollable addiction.

4. Feelings of emptiness – Addiction often starts when an individual feels lonely. They turn to drugs and alcohol thinking that it will fill a void that they have been living with.

5. Peer Pressure – Teenagers and adults can succumb to peer pressure. The pressure of being around others who are abusing drugs or alcohol can make anyone follow suit and do things that they never thought they would.

6.Drugs and alcohol can make you feel good – People commonly fall into addiction because they begin using drugs to mask particular emotions that they are going through. The abuse makes them feel good and forget about the problem at hand. Eventually they think they can’t live without drugs.

7. Drugs and alcohol are more available than ever – Prescription drugs, street drugs and alcohol are more available than ever. Prescription drugs can be obtained on the streets, through doctors and even online. Where there is a will there is a way.

8. Alcohol isn’t enough – Often times addiction starts with alcohol but when the effects of alcohol are not what they used to be the addict turns to harder and stronger drugs.

9.Experimenting – It is not uncommon for addiction to stem from a person being curious and experimenting with drugs. It is a scenario that often starts with alcohol or marijuana but ends up with cocaine, prescription medication or even crystal meth and heroin.

10.Self Medicating – People from all different backgrounds use alcohol to unwind at the end of the day or prescription drugs to help them cope with stress of everyday life. Patterns like this can quickly turn into addiction.

How much is the drugs industry worth?

As incredible as it may sound, the drug industry accounts for 1% of all yearly international trade. In the UK, the drugs industry is worth about ?200bn per year, and a large proportion of that is spent on drugs brought in from other countries.

It’s no doubt helped by the profit made from drugs on the street; cocaine, for instance, is worth ?42 per gram compared to the cost at source of ?850 per kilo. The global heroin industry is worth ?38bn, with an estimated 290,000 users in the UK.

How do the drugs get here to the UK?

Methods of smuggling drugs:

  • Via ship, usually in cargo freight containers.
  • Via air, either in freight or with passengers, or ‘mules’ as they are also known. The mule either swallows the drugs, or hides it on their person or luggage.
  • Through small boats or light aircraft, landing illegally and evading the usual customs checks.
  • Through packages posted from source to the UK.
  • Through smaller airports.

Tackling drugs traffic

“Drugs come in mostly by container freight on ships, usually on the largest trade routes, and through the main docks, such as Felixstowe, Liverpool and Southampton. And in cargo via airports and passengers and their luggage,” says Robert Buxton, who works for Customs and Excise. “As well as stopping the drugs at sea and airports, though, we tackle the problem near the source as much as possible. We have overseas officers in Columbia and Peru, for instance.”

In February 2006, the Royal Navy ship HMS Southampton seized three-and-a-half tonnes of cocaine from a cargo ship off the coast of Miami. The drugs were heading for the UK, where the overall street value was estimated to be ?350m. “The success of this seizure will send a clear message of determination to stop the smuggling of illegal drugs,” said HMS Southampton’s Commanding Officer, Rob Vitali.

Another way of tackling the problem of drug trafficking is through education and drug treatment. Buxton explains that it’s also important to deal with the financial aspect of trade: “We freeze assets and take away the property and money of those involved in the criminal networks,” he says. “Once they have no money to pay for more drugs to be brought into the country it’s impossible to operate. We take out the profit from it and that’s why smugglers are in the business – to profit. But it’s always an ongoing battle, and will be as long as there is a demand for drugs.”

John Stirling, a freelance drugs journalist, agrees: “Drug smugglers are coming up with more ingenious methods to bring their cargo into the country. As they are thwarted with one smuggling method, they come up with another, such as mules forced to smuggle because drug barons are holding their family hostage until the job is done.”

Drug trade routes

Heroin Afghanistan accounts for over 90% of the world’s heroin consumption. It’s transported from source through old USSR countries like Kazakhstan and into Turkey, where it’s then refined. It’s then either taken to Greece where it is shipped to Marseilles, or driven into Europe and eventually into the UK.

Ecstasy/other synthetic drugs mostly produced in the Netherlands and smuggled in on the UK’s eastern seaboard.

Cocaine/crack Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of cocaine. Smugglers move the drug by light aircraft to the Caribbean, where it’s transferred to cargo ship and transported either to this country, or to Holland or Germany, before being switched to another ship or lorry and then smuggled in.

Crack is produced in the Caribbean and flown straight into the UK.

Cannabis is produced in the Caribbean, where it’s smuggled in via air, although much of it still comes from west Africa and Morocco, transported by road or ship into Europe, and into the UK.







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