Lifetime Prevalence of Illegal Drug Use in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 59
"According to the 2014/15 CSEW, 36.5 per cent of young adults aged 16 to 24 had used an illicit drug at some point in their lives, while 19.4 per cent had done so in the last year. By contrast, among the wider age group of adults aged 16 to 59, a similar proportion (34.7%) had used an illicit drug in their lifetime, compared with only 8.6 per cent who had used an illicit drug in the last year. These comparisons provide evidence that drug use tends to begin relatively early in life, and that those who have used a drug at some point in their lives may not have done so recently.
"The following key findings summarise the trend data on lifetime drug use among 16 to 59 year olds:
" Around one third (34.7%) of adults aged 16 to 59 said they had taken an illicit drug in their lifetime, which equates to around 11.3 million people. This is a similar level to recent years (for example, 35.7% in 2013/14) but an increase from 30.4% in the 1996 survey. This is likely to be an effect of the ageing population, as last-year drug use has fallen compared with the 1996 survey, from 11.1 per cent to 8.6 per cent (Tables 1.01, 1.02 and 1.04).
" 15.5 per cent (5.1 million) adults aged 16 to 59 had taken a Class A drug in their lifetime, a statistically significant increase from 9.6 per cent in the 1996 survey. This is in line with a simultaneous increase in the use of Class A drugs in the last year, from 2.7 per cent in the 1996 survey to 3.2 per cent in the 2014/15 survey.
" For all adults aged 16 to 59, the drug most commonly reported as ever used was cannabis, with around three in ten (29.2%) adults reporting using this drug at some point during their lifetime. Furthermore, around one in ten adults aged 16 to 59 said that they had used amphetamines (10.3%), powder cocaine (9.7%), ecstasy (9.2%) or amyl nitrite (8.5%) in their lifetime."