YouGov has conducted an extensive study on drugs and drug use in the UK. The study investigates opinions, attitudes, and behaviours of Britons towards both prescription and recreational drugs.
The study is a part of our Big Surveys project – a series of in-depth surveys on key social issues.
For the purposes of this study, we’ve defined ‘soft drugs’ as substances such as cannabis or speed and ‘hard drugs’ as substances such as cocaine or heroin.
The study was conducted between 21-24 September, on a sample of 2,717 adults aged 16 and above.
The study is divided into the following chapters:
Part One: Prescription drugs
Part Three: Britons on their experiences with drugs
Part Four: Non-drug users on drugs
Part Five: Discussing drugs
Part Seven: Should possessing/selling drugs be legal?
Part Eight: Views about people with drug problems
Here are the top eleven things we found on what Britons think when it comes to prescription and recreational drugs:
- Over half of Britons (56%) report currently taking prescription drugs. One in five (18%) said they take one prescription drug and 13% said they take two, while 16% take between three and five and 9% take more than five prescription drugs
- One in five Britons (21%) take painkillers at least once a week. One in eleven (9%) Britons report taking a painkiller every day or on most days
- Sixteen percent of Britons say they were prescribed drugs when they thought it was not necessary. Conversely, 12% of Britons said they have been denied prescription drugs when they thought they should get them
- Four in ten Britons (39%) say they have taken either hard (14%) or soft (38%) recreational drugs. This applies more to men (42%) than women (35%). Eight percent of Britons say they currently take recreational drugs
- Half of Britons (51%) say they know someone who takes recreational drugs
- Eight out of ten Britons (79%) say they can recognise the smell of cannabis
- Nine out of ten (93%) Britons who say they have had experience with drugs have tried cannabis. Cocaine is the second most commonly tried (34%), while ecstasy comes third (27%), followed by MDMA (24%), amphetamines (23%) and hashish (23%)
- Among Britons who tried drugs, around half (47%) say their overall experience has been mostly positive, while a fifth (21%) say it was mostly negative, and 25% say it was both positive and negative
- Eight in ten Britons (81%) think drug abuse is a big problem in the UK. Half of Britons (53%) see drugs as a big problem in their local area. Just 5% of Britons think the government is doing enough to fight drug abuse in their local area
- Four in ten Britons (40%) think that UK drug laws are too soft, while a fifth(19%) think they are too strict
- A plurality of Britons (44%) say drug addiction is equally caused by both circumstances beyond personal control and personal choices. Three in ten (31%) think it’s primarily down to personal choices, and 16% that it’s primarily down to uncontrollable circumstances