beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Statistics Publication

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Drug Use

Published: 28 Jun 2016
ISBN:
9781786522689

This report presents findings on illicit drug use from the self-completion module of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey. It provides data and analysis on drug use in the last month, in the last year and ever among adults aged sixteen and over in Scotla

70 page PDF

1.7MB

70 page PDF

1.7MB

Contents
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Drug Use
Chapter 2: Prevalence of illicit drug use in Scotland

70 page PDF

1.7MB

Chapter 2: Prevalence of illicit drug use in Scotland

Key findings

Self-reported drug use and changes over time

  • There has been a statistically significant decline in self-reported illicit drug use between the SCJS 2008/09 and 2014/15 across all three reporting time periods ( in the last month, in the last year, and ever). The percentage of adults reporting taking one or more illicit drugs in the last year decreased from 7.6% to 6.0% of adults between 2008/09 and 2014/15.
  • Reported drug use has fallen for both females and males between 2008/09 and 2014/15, with a decrease in reported illicit drug use in the last year from 11.1% in comparison to 8.9% amongst men, and a decrease from 4.3% to 3.4% amongst women.
  • In 2014/15, 2.6% of adults reported use of Class A drugs, 5.2% reported use of Class B drugs and 0.5% reported use of Class C drugs in the last year. There has been a statistically significant decline in reported use in the last year of Class A (-0.9 percentage points), Class B (-1.2 percentage points) and Class C (-0.8 percentage points) drugs between 2008/09 and 2014/15. There has also been a statistically significant decline in the use of Class C drugs between the SCJS 2012/13 and 2014/15 (-0.5 percentage points).
  • Looking at drug use by composite group, 2.8% of adults reported use of stimulants, 0.5% reported use of downers/tranquilisers, 0.5% reported use of psychedelics and 0.2% reported use of opiates in the last year.
  • There has also been a statistically significant decline in reported use in the last year of composite groups stimulants (-1.1 percentage points) and downers/tranquilisers (-0.7 percentage points) between 2008/09 and 2014/15.
  • As in the SCJS 2012/13, cannabis is the most commonly used drug with 5.0% of adults reporting use in the last year, however this has fallen from 6.2% in the 2008/09 survey.

Variation in drug use

  • Drug use varies by age and gender. As in previous sweeps of the SCJS , men (8.9% in comparison to 3.4% of women) and those aged 16-24 (18.8% in comparison to 6% of all adults) reported higher levels of drug use in the last year in the 2014/15 SCJS.
  • Self-reported illicit drug use varies significantly by age, gender, socioeconomic classification, area deprivation and victim status; higher levels of drug use are found in younger age group, men, those working routine/manual professions, those living in deprived areas and those who are victims of crime.

Being offered drugs

  • There has been a statistically significant decrease between 2008/09 and 2014/15 in those reporting that someone has offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year. 8.9% of adults reported that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year compared with 13.7% in 2008/09 and 10.6% in 2012/13. This decline has been statistically significant across legally classified and composite drug groups stimulants, psychedelics and downers/tranquilisers.
  • The decrease between 2012/13 and 2014/15 in the proportion of people reporting that someone has offered them an illicit drug has also been statistically significant, as is the decline in drugs from all three classifications being offered in this period.
  • Looking at being offered drugs by age group, there has been a statistically significant decline in 16-24 year-olds reporting being offered at least one illicit drug in the last year from 41.4% in 2008/09 to 27.5% in 2014/15.

Use of New Psychoactive Substances

  • For the first time, the SCJS 2014/15 asked respondents whether they had ever taken 'New Psychoactive Substances' ( NPS), also known as 'legal highs', as a generic category.
  • An estimated 1.6% of adults reported that they had taken any powders, pills, herbal mixtures or crystals that are sold as 'legal highs', even if it was a long time ago.
  • 0.4% of adults reported that they had taken any powders, pills, herbal mixtures or crystals sold as 'legal highs' in the last year. This was 24.3% of those who said that they had ever taken 'legal highs' (Base: 140).
  • Use of NPS was higher amongst younger age groups, with 4.1% of 16-24 year-olds reporting having ever used 'legal highs', compared with 2.7% of 25-44 year-olds and 0.5% of 45-60 year-olds.
  • Separately, 0.5% of adults reported taking any of the individual 'new drugs' (salvia divinorum and nitrous oxide) in the last year, with 3.0% doing so at some point in their lives.

2.1 Introduction

This chapter looks at the prevalence of illicit drug use in Scotland examining changes in drug use reported to the SCJS between 2008/09 and 2014/15; variation in types of drug used; and, demographic, socioeconomic and geographic variation in drug use. The chapter also examines the likelihood of being offered drugs. Finally, it reports on the use of two individual 'new drugs' (nitrous oxide and savlia divinorum), and the use of generic 'new psychoactive substances'. These substances have generally been excluded from the overall analysis and the trend analysis presented in this chapter (therefore all percentages exclude new drugs/new psychoactive substances, unless otherwise stated). This is to ensure consistency with previous sweeps of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey.

2.2 Self-reported drug use

The SCJS 2014/15 provides estimates of the percentage of adults aged 16 and over who report that they have used illicit drugs based on answers provided for three periods of time: in the last month; in the last year; and ever. Comparisons with the previous four sweeps of the SCJS help to put these findings in context and reveals that the percentage of adults reporting using one or more illicit drugs has been declining. Table 2.1 and Figure 2.1 show this decline in the number of adults reporting illicit drug use for all three time periods used in the survey between the SCJS 2008/09 and the SCJS 2014/15 [10] . The decline was significant comparing drug use reported in the 2008/09 survey with that reported in 2014/15. However, there were no statistically significant changes in these results between 2012/13 and 2014/15. In the SCJS 2014/15:

  • 3.3% of adults reported having used one or more illicit drugs in the last month (the month prior to the survey interview). This is compared with 4.4% in 2008/09, 4.2% in 2009/10; 3.5% in 2010/11; and, 3.3% in 2012/13.
  • 6.0% of adults reported having used one or more illicit drug in the last year. This is compared with 7.6% in 2008/09, 7.2% in 2009/10; 6.6% in 2010/11; and, 6.2% in 2012/13.
  • 22.1% of adults reported taking one of more illicit drug at some point in their lives ( ever). This is compared with 25.6% in 2008/09, 25.2% in 2009/10; 23.7% in 2010/11; and, 23.0% in 2012/13.

Table 2.1: % reporting use of any of the listed illicit drugs and percentage change from SCJS 2008/09 and SCJS 2012/13 to SCJS 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Percentage of all adults aged 16 and over 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15 pp change
2008/09 - 2014/15
pp change
2012/13 - 2014/15
Ever 25.6 25.2 23.7 23.0 22.1 -3.6 -0.9
In last year 7.6 7.2 6.6 6.2 6.0 -1.6 -0.2
In last month 4.4 4.2 3.5 3.3 3.3 -1.1 -
Base 10,960 13,410 10,980 10,220 9,970

Variable Names: QEVE_ANY, Q12M_ANY, Q1M_ANY Note: changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted by bold text

Figure 2.1: % reporting use of any of the listed illicit drugs

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.1: % reporting use of any of the listed illicit drugs

Variable Names: QEVE_ANY, Q12M_ANY, Q1M_ANY
Note: Error bars represent a 95% confidence interval (see 1.6 for details)

A comparison with the Crime Survey for England and Wales ( CSEW) 2014/15 [11] , for those aged 16-59 only, shows that reported use of drugs of any kind [12] in the last year was similar in Scotland (8.5%) to England and Wales (8.6%) (Home Office, 2015). This contrasts with self-reported drug use at some point in their lives ( ever), for 16-59 year olds only, which was lower in Scotland (29.5% compared to 34.7% in England and Wales) (Home Office, 2015).

The Information Services Division ( ISD) provides estimates of national and local prevalence of problem drug use [13] in Scotland. The estimated prevalence rate of problem drug use in Scotland in 2012/13 was 1.74% ( ISD, 2016). The ISD states that taking into account confidence intervals and following revisions to the data, the evidence suggests that there remains no significant change in the number or rate of problem drug use since 2009/10. The report can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Drugs-and-Alcohol-Misuse/Publications/2014-10-28/2014-10-28-Drug-Prevalence-Report.pdf

2.3 Self-reported drug use by composite group and by class of drug

2.3.1 Self-reported drug use by composite group

Figure 2.2 shows self-reported drug use, for all three time periods, by composite drug groups: stimulants, psychedelics, downers/tranquilisers and opiates. Figure 2.2 shows that in the last year:

  • 2.8% of adults reported use of stimulants; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 3.9% of adults in 2008/09.
  • 0.5% of adults reported use of downers/tranquilisers; a statistically significant decrease in the number of adults reporting use of downers/tranquilisers in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15 (- 0.7 percentage points) and between 2012/13 and 2014/15 (- 0.3 percentage points).
  • 0.5% of adults reported use of psychedelics;
  • 0.2% of adults reported use of opiates.
  • There was no change in the number of adults reporting use of psychedelics and opiate drugs in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15.

Figure 2.2 % reporting use of drugs by composite group

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.2 % reporting use of drugs by composite group

Base: Adults (9,970)
Variable Names: QEVE, Q12M, Q1M

2.3.2 Self-reported drug use by legal classification

Changes to classifications in 2014/15

As discussed in the Introduction, ketamine and mephedrone were presented as 'Class C' and a 'new drug' respectively in previous SCJS reports. In this report, for figures relating to 2014/15, both are presented as Class B drugs, reflecting changes to their classification. The effect of moving ketamine from Class C to Class B has made a difference of 0.1 percentage point to most categories and so generally has not affected the statistical significance of any changes, with one exception relating to use of Class C drugs ever (discussed below).

The additional effect of adding mephedrone to Class B in 2014/15 is also very small; without mephedrone in Class B, Class B estimated use ever would be 20.5% rather than 20.6%, while estimated use in the last month would remain at 5.2%.

See section 1.4.1 for further information.

Class A drug use in the last year and ever

An estimated 2.6% of adults reported having taken one or more Class A drugs in the last year; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 3.4% of adults in 2008/09. There was no change in the proportion of adults reporting use of Class A drugs between 2012/13 and 2014/15 [14] .

An estimated 11.0% of adults reported ever having taken one or more Class A drugs, compared to 11.7% in 2008/09 and 11.9% in 2012/13, however neither of these apparent changes are statistically significant.

Class B drug use in the last year and ever

An estimated 5.2% of adults reported having taken one or more Class B drugs in the last year; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 6.4% of adults in 2008/09. There was no change in the proportion of adults reporting use of Class B drugs between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

An estimated 20.6% of adults reported ever having taken one or more Class B drugs; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 23.6% of adults in 2008/09. However the apparent change from 21.6% in 2012/13 to 20.6% in 2014/15 is not statistically significant.

Class C drug use in the last year and ever

An estimated 0.5% of adults reported having taken one or more Class C drugs in the last year; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 1.3% of adults in 2008/09 and 1.0% of adults in 2012/13 [15] .

An estimated 2.6% of adults reported ever having taken one or more Class C drugs; a statistically significant decrease in comparison to 5.7% of adults in 2008/09 and 3.8% of adults in 2012/13. However, as noted in section 1.4.1, had ketamine not been reclassified as a class B drug in 2014/15, the change in class C use ever would have been from 3.8% in 2012/13 to 3.3% in 2014/15, which is a not a statistically significant change.

Figure 2.3 shows self-reported drug use, for all three time periods, by legal classification: Class A, Class B or Class C.

Figure 2.3 % reporting use of drugs by legal classification: at some point in their lives ( ever), in the last year and in the last month

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.3 % reporting use of drugs by legal classification: at some point in their lives (ever), in the last year and in the last month

Base: Adults (9,970)
Variable Names: QEVE, Q12M, Q1M

Table 2.2 reveals a statistically significant decrease in reported use of Class A, Class B and Class C drugs in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15 but only for Class C drugs between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

Table 2.2: Trends in % reporting illicit drug use in the last year by legal classification from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Percentage of all adults aged 16 and over using drugs in the last year 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15 pp change
2008/09 - 2014/15
pp change
2012/13 - 2014/15
Class A 3.4 3.0 2.6 2.5 2.6 -0.9 0.1
Class B 6.4 6.2 5.7 5.3 5.2 -1.2 -0.1
Class C 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.0 0.5 -0.8 -0.5
Base 10,960 13,410 10,980 10,220 9,970

Variable Name: Q12M
Note: changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted using bold text

2.4 Self-reported drug use by specific drug

Similarly to the previous sweeps of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, cannabis was the most commonly reported drug used by all adults for all three time periods. In the SCJS 2014/15, it was found that:

  • 20.0% of adults reported taking cannabis at some point in their lives ( ever);
  • 5.0% of adults reported taking cannabis in the last year; and
  • 2.8% of adults reported taking cannabis in the last month.

The next most commonly reported drugs taken by adults at some point in their lives after cannabis were cocaine (taken by 6.9%), ecstasy (6.8%), amphetamines (6.1%), poppers (5.4%) and the psychedelic drugs: magic mushrooms (4.5%) and LSD (4.1%).

When looking at drugs taken in the last year, the next most commonly reported drugs used after cannabis were cocaine (1.8%), ecstasy (1.3%), poppers (0.6%), amphetamines (0.6%) and tranquilisers (0.5%).

Finally, when considering drugs taken in the last month, the next most commonly reported drugs used after cannabis were cocaine (0.6%), ecstasy (0.6%), tranquilisers (0.3%) and amphetamines (0.3%).

Figure 2.4 [16] shows the percentage of adults reporting drug use in the last year by specific drug in ranked order, from the drug most commonly used to the drug least commonly used across the population.

Figure 2.4: % reporting drug use in the last year by drug used

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.4: % reporting drug use in the last year by drug used

Base: Adults (9,970)
Variable Name: Q12M

  • There has been a statistically significant decrease in adults reporting using mephedrone [17] (treated as a 'new drug' in previous sweeps of the SCJS, but now a Class B substance) in the last year between 2010/11 and 2014/15 (0.7% in comparison to 0.3%).

Table 2.3 examines changes over time in the use of the most commonly reported drugs used in the last year. It shows that there has been a statistically significant decrease in the reported use of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and tranquilisers in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15. As reported above ( section 2.3.1), there has also been a statistically significant decrease in reported use of tranquilisers in the last year between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

Table 2.3: Trends in % of adults reporting use of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, poppers, amphetamines and tranquilisers in the last year from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Percentage of all adults aged 16 and over using drugs in the last year 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15 pp change
2008/09 - 2014/15
pp change
2012/13 - 2014/15
Cannabis 6.2 6.1 5.6 5.1 5.0 -1.2 -0.2
Cocaine 2.7 2.1 1.9 1.7 1.8 -0.9 0.1
Ecstasy 1.8 1.9 1.4 1.3 1.3 -0.5 0.0
Poppers 1.0 0.9 0.6 0.5 0.6 -0.3 0.1
Amphetamines 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.7 0.6 -0.4 0.0
Tranquilisers 1.2 1.0 1.1 0.8 0.5 -0.7 -0.3
Base 10,960 13,410 10,980 10,220 9,970

Variable Name: Q12M
Note: changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted in bold (see section 1.6 for further details).

2.5 Variations in self-reported drug use

2.5.1 Variation by gender

Self-reported drug use in the last month, in the last year and ever was significantly [18] associated with gender. Men reported higher levels of illicit drug use than women (see Figure 2.5):

  • 27.3% of men reported taking an illicit drug at some point in their lives in comparison to 17.2% of women;
  • 8.9% of men reported taking an illicit drug in the last year in comparison to 3.4% of women;
  • 5.4% of men reported taking an illicit drug in the last month in comparison to 1.4% of women.

Figure 2.5: Variation in illicit drug use ever, in the last year and in the last month by gender and age

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.5: Variation in illicit drug use ever, in the last year and in the last month by gender and age

Base: Adults aged 16 or over (Adults: 9,970; 16-24: 830; 25-44: 3,010; 45-59: 2,620; 60+: 3,500; Male: 4,520 Female: 5,450)
Variable Names: QEVE_ANY, Q12M_ANY, Q1M_ANY

Table 2.4 reveals a statistically significant decrease in illicit drug use in the last year by men (-2.2 percentage points) and women (-1.0 percentage points) between 2008/09 and 2014/15. However, the changes in reported illicit drug use between 2012/13 and 2014/15 for both men and women were not statistically significant.

Table 2.4: Trends in reported illicit drug use in the last year by gender from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Percentage of all adults aged 16 and over Men
(%)
Men
(Base)
Women
(%)
Women
(Base)
2008/09 11.1 4,800 4.3 6,160
2009/10 10.1 5,910 4.5 7,500
2010/11 9.5 4,730 3.9 6,250
2012/13 9.4 4,420 3.3 5,800
2014/15 8.9 4,520 3.4 5,450
% change 2008/09 - 2014/15 -2.2 -1.0
% change 2012/13 - 2014/15 -0.5 0.1

Variable Name: Q12M
Note: changes which are statistically significant at the 95% level are highlighted with bold text (see section 1.6 for further details).

2.5.2 Variation by age

Self-reported drug use also varies by age. Respondents aged 16-24 had the highest level of reported drug use in the last month (9.7%) and in the last year (18.8%) . Respondents aged 25-44 had the highest level of reported drug use ever (36.2%) (see Figure 2.5) .

Figure 2.6 illustrates reported use of illicit drugs in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15 by age group. There were no statistically significant changes in reported drug use by each age group in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15 and 2012/13 and 2014/15 .

Figure 2.6: Trends in reported drug use in the last year by age from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.6: Trends in reported drug use in the last year by age from 2008/09 to 2014/15

Base: adults aged 16 and over [19]
Variable Names: Q12M, TABAGE

In the 2013 Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey [20] ( SALSUS), the proportion of school pupils aged 13 and 15 reporting drug use in the last month was the lowest since time series began in 1998 (Information Services Division, 2014). The number of 15-year-olds who reported using drugs in the last month decreased from 24% to 9% between 1998 and 2013. The number of 13-year-olds reporting using drugs in the last month decreased from 8% to 2% between 1998 and 2013 (Information Services Division, 2014).

2.5.3 Variation by age and gender

For both sexes, the highest level of reported illicit drug use in the last year was for the youngest age group. For men, 23.5% of 16-24 year-olds and 12.8% of 25-44 year-olds reported drug use in the last year. For women, self-reported drug use was also lower for 25-44 year-olds (4%) than for 16-24 year-olds (14.0%). Reported illicit drug use in the last year was lower for both men and women as they got older (see Figure 2.7).

Figure 2.7: Variation in illicit drug use in the last year by gender and age

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.7: Variation in illicit drug use in the last year by gender and age

Base: Adults aged 16 or over in each age range by gender (All adults: 9,970; Men: 4,520; Women: 5,450)
Variable Name: Q12M

2.5.4 Variation in drug use

Self-reported illicit drug use in the last year was significantly [21] associated with socioeconomic classification [22] ; urban/rural classification [23] ; victim status [24] and area deprivation based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation [25] ( SIMD) (see Figure 2.8).

  • Those classified in the routine and manual socioeconomic group were more likely to report illicit drug use in the last year (10.2% compared to 6.4% in the intermediate occupation group, 4.4% in the managerial and professional group and 4.1% of those in the never worked and long-term unemployed category).
  • Those who live in urban areas were more likely to report using illicit drugs in the last year (6.5% compared to 3.8% of those living in rural areas).
  • Victims of crime were more likely to report using illicit drugs in the last year (11.7% compared to 5.0% of non-victims).
  • Those classified as living in the 15% most deprived areas based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation were more likely to report using illicit drugs in the last year than those living in all other areas (8.9% compared to 5.5%).

Figure 2.8: % reporting illicit drug use in the last year by socioeconomic group, urban/rural location, victim status and SIMD Index

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.8: % reporting illicit drug use in the last year by socioeconomic group, urban/rural location, victim status and SIMD Index

Base: Adults aged 16 and over in group [26]
Variables Names: Q12M_ANY; TABNSSEC; TABURBRUR; VICFLAG3; SIMD_TOP.

2.6 Being offered drugs in the last year

The SCJS 2014/15 estimated that 8.9% of adults reported that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year. Comparing this to previous sweeps of the SCJS reveals a statistically significant decline with 13.7% of adults reporting being offered drugs in the last year in the SCJS 2008/09 (a drop of 4.8 percentage points) and 10.6% in the SCJS 2012/13 (a drop of 1.7 percentage points). Of those who had not taken drugs in the last year, 4.9% said that they had been offered illicit drugs in the last year.

2.6.1 Being offered drugs by composite group and legal classification

Compared with previous sweeps of the SCJS, there has been a statistically significant decrease in those reporting that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year by composite drug group and legal classification:

  • Stimulant drugs are the most commonly reported to have been offered in the last year in every sweep of the SCJS: 5.8% of adults reported having been offered stimulant drugs in the last year in the SCJS 2014/15. For stimulants, downers/tranquilisers and psychedelic drugs, comparisons with the SCJS 2008/09 reveal a statistically significant decline in adults reporting they have been offered these drugs (stimulants -4.0; downers/tranquilisers -1.8; psychedelics -0.8 percentage points) (see Figure 2.9).

Figure 2.9: % being offered an illicit drug in the last year from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.9: % being offered an illicit drug in the last year from 2008/09 to 2014/15

Base: Adults aged 16 or over (adults aged 16 and over ( SCJS 2008/09: 10,960; SCJS 2009/10: 13,410; SCJS 2010/11: 10,980; SCJS 2012/13: 10,220; SCJS 2014/15: 9,970)
Variable Name: Q12M

  • Drugs legally classified as Class B were the most commonly reported to have been offered in the last year (7.2%). For all three Classes of drug, comparisons with the SCJS 2008/09 reveal a statistically significant decline in adults reporting they have been offered these drugs (Class A -3.7; Class B -3.8; Class C -2.2 percentage points) (see Figure 2.10). There was also a statistically significant decline in adults reporting being offered drugs across all 3 classifications between the 2012/13 and 2014/15 (Class A -1.0; Class B -1.4; Class C -1.1 percentage points).

Figure 2.10: % being offered an illicit drug by legal classification in the last year from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.10: % being offered an illicit drug by legal classification in the last year from 2008/09 to 2014/15

Base: Adults aged 16 and over ( SCJS 2008/09: 10,960; SCJS 2009/10: 13,410; SCJS 2010/11: 10,980; SCJS 2012/13: 10,220; SCJS 2014/15: 9,970)
Variable Name: Q12M

Figure 2.11 shows the percentage of adults aged 16 or over who reported that someone had offered to give or sell them at least one type of illicit drug in the last year by composite drug group; legal classification of drugs; and the most commonly offered drugs (cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy).

In 2014/15, just over one in twenty adults (6.5%) reported being offered cannabis in the last year, down from 10.3% in 2008/09 and 8.3% in 2012/13 ; 4.1% reported being offered cocaine, down from 7.0% in 2008/09; and 3.4% reported being offered ecstasy, down from 6.3% in 2008/09.

Figure 2.11: % being offered drugs in the last year by type of drug

SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.11: % being offered drugs in the last year by type of drug

Base: Adults (9,970)
Variable Name: QOF2

2.6.2 Variations in being offered drugs

Being offered drugs in the last year was significantly [27] associated with gender:

  • Men were more than twice as likely as women to report being offered an illicit drug in the last year (12.6% compared to 5.5%).

Being offered drugs also varies by age:

  • Over a quarter of 16-24 year-olds (27.5%) reported being offered an illicit drug in the last year. In comparison, 11.9% of 25-44 year-olds, 4.2% of 45-59 year-olds and 0.8% of those aged over 60 reported being offered an illicit drug in the last year.
  • For the younger age groups, there has been a statistically significant decrease in the number of 16-24 year-olds and 25-44 year-olds reporting being offered an illicit drug in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15, and between 2012/13 and 2014/15 for 25-44 year-olds (see Figure 2.12).

Figure 2.12: Being offered an illicit drug in the last year by age group from 2008/09 to 2014/15

SCJS 2008/09; SCJS 2009/10; SCJS 2010/11; SCJS 2012/13; SCJS 2014/15

Figure 2.12: Being offered an illicit drug in the last year by age group from 2008/09 to 2014/15

Base: Adults aged 16 and over [28]
Variable Names: QOF2; TABAGE

Being offered illicit drugs in the last year varied significantly [29] by socioeconomic classification, urban/rural classification, victim status and area deprivation.

  • Those classified as working in the routine and manual occupations (13.5%) were more likely to have been offered illicit drugs in the last year than in any other occupation group (in comparison to 7.1% of the managerial and professional occupations group, 10.4% of the intermediate occupations group and 6.5% of those classed as never worked or long-term unemployed).
  • Those living in urban areas were more likely to report being offered illicit drugs in the last year compared to those living in rural areas (9.5% and 6.3% respectively).
  • Victims of crime, as measured by the SCJS 2014/15 were more than twice as likely to have been offered illicit drugs in the last year as those who did not report being a victim of crime (17.5% and 7.4% respectively).
  • Those classified as living in the 15% most deprived areas based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation were more likely to report being offered illicit drugs in the last year than those not living in the 15% most deprived areas (12.9% compared to 8.2%).

2.7 New Psychoactive Substances

The SCJS 2014/15 asked respondents for the first time whether they had taken New Psychoactive Substances ( NPS), or 'legal highs'. This generic category referred to: " a range of substances that are described as 'legal highs', 'designer drugs', or 'new drugs''…substances which you take to get a 'high' and are not illegal to purchase (but are not prescribed by a doctor)".

  • An estimated 1.6% of adults reported that they had ever taken any powders, pills, herbal mixtures or crystals sold as 'legal highs'.
  • 0.4% of adults reported that they had taken any powders, pills, herbal mixtures or crystals sold as 'legal highs' in the last year. Of those who reported ever taking 'legal highs' (Base: 140), 24.3% said that they had in the last year.
  • Those in the younger age groups were more likely to report having ever used 'legal highs' (4.1% of 16-24 year-olds, 2.7% of 25-44 year-olds in comparison to 0.5% of 45-59 year-olds). This corresponds with UK and international evidence that use of NPS is higher amongst younger age groups (Scottish Government, 2014).
  • Men were more likely than women to report having ever used 'legal highs' (2.2% of men compared to 1.0% of women).

The Scottish Government's New Psychoactive Substances - Evidence Review examines evidence on demand for and prevalence of use of NPS in Scotland, set in the context of information from the rest of the UK and internationally. In a review of national surveys it reports that use of NPS amongst the general adult population tends to be relatively low compared with the use of other illicit drugs (Scottish Government, 2014).

The Crime Survey for England and Wales collected information on the self-reported use of NPS in 2014/15. Details of the results can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/462885/drug-misuse-1415.pdf

In addition to the generic question about 'legal highs', respondents were asked separately whether they had taken two individual 'new drugs' (or those not recorded previously). These were nitrous oxide and salvia divinorum. Questions on the use of individual 'new drugs' have been included in the last two surveys, although the specific substances have changed over time. It is therefore not possible to make comparisons between reported use of any 'new drugs' in the SCJS 2014/15 and previous surveys.

  • 0.5% of adults reporting using any 'new drug' in the last year. Looking at individual 'new drugs', 0.5% of adults said that they had taken nitrous oxide and 0.1% said that they had taken salvia divinorum in the last year.

Of respondents who reported ever taking salvia divinorum or nitrous oxide, only 22.1% said 'yes' when asked if they had ever taken any powders, pills, herbal mixtures or crystals that are sold as 'legal highs'. This suggests that there remains a degree of uncertainty about what does and does not constitute a 'legal high'.


Contact