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Regular Users IV - Sex Differences in UK Drug Use

Atha MJ, Blanchard S & Davis S (2000)

Version 1.0

The IDMU Regular Users IV Survey involved a total sample of 2173 drug users who completed anonymous questionnaires at pop festivals and other UK events during 1999.
 
Respondents were questioned about their patterns of drug use, including age of initiation to using a range of specified legal and illegal drugs, and monthly spending and subjective ratings of these drugs, amongst a variety of other questions including political opinions, drug prices, driving behaviour and health effects.
 

Sample Demographics

 

Income

***

Age (all)

ns

Sex (all)

n %

Male

871

10840

1214

27.66

1242

57.16%

Female

550

8932.54

734

27.16

747

34.38%

Not stated

108

11195.01

145

28.47

184

8.47%

Total

       

2173

 

 

Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis - quantitative measures of use

 

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

 

Can Use

***

Can Buy

***

Can Spend

**

Can spend 2

**

Male

1063

31.63

1011

58.20

828

117.07

738

96.10

Female

598

18.81

522

19.15

435

59.15

406

56.68

Not stated

134

24.76

127

36.36

98

98.68

88

83.05

                 
 

TC per day

Alc units wk

***

Cigs per day

*

Spliffs per day

ns

Male

1045

4.78

1037

25.28

805

12.38

840

6.34

Female

638

4.45

594

16.07

451

11.21

456

5.05

Not stated

133

4.98

132

18.61

99

14.23

107

5.88

                 

Numbers having ever used, and

Age at first use of each drug

by sex

 

TC 1st

***

Tob 1st

ns

Alc 1st

ns

Can 1st

 

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

Male

1008

6.97

998

13.64

1031

12.32

1043

15.64

Female

635

8.18

618

16.27

655

12.31

641

16.17

Not stated

123

7.54

127

13.96

133

12.38

136

15.62

                 
 

Amp 1st

ns

Bas 1st

ns

Coc 1st

ns

Opi 1st

ns

Male

776

18.07

474

19.59

625

21.07

286

20.41

Female

426

18.18

233

18.88

329

20.69

128

21.68

Not stated

93

17.60

56

19.27

78

20.65

37

19.84

                 
 

Mus 1st

ns

Cra 1st

ns

Her 1st

ns

Sem 1st

ns

Male

746

18.36

132

22.73

170

21.62

3

19.33

Female

361

18.58

49

21.61

79

20.34

2

18.00

Not stated

87

18.34

21

24.71

28

21.54

2

9.00

                 
 

Ket 1st

***

LSD 1st

ns

Ext 1st

ns

Bar 1st

ns

Male

196

22.82

723

18.07

638

20.94

100

18.71

Female

98

21.49

380

18.2

358

20.42

38

17.39

Not stated

24

26.62

89

18.18

79

20.85

17

17.94

                 
 

Tra 1st

ns

Sol 1st

ns

Met 1st

ns

Ghb 1st

ns

Male

159

18.99

152

14.36

58

21.79

38

24.13

Female

120

19.14

73

14.11

23

19.96

18

23.67

Not stated

22

19.95

20

15.75

12

21.42

5

23.20

         

93

     
 

Pop 1st

Ste 1st

ns

Oth 1st

   

Male

512

18.01

11

18.27

65

22.88

   

Female

299

17.29

8

18.38

33

19.27

   

Not stated

63

18.59

4

18.25

8

19.62

   
                 

Numbers recently buying drugs and

Monthly spending on drugs ( per month)

by sex

 

TC

**

Tob

ns

Alc

**

Can

**

 

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

Male

596

8.31

648

38.71

723

65.20

738

96.10

Female

419

7.16

401

36.90

466

48.45

406

56.68

Not stated

76

12.66

82

40.32

89

59.04

88

83.05

                 
 

Amp

ns

Bas

ns

Coc

**

Opi

ns

Male

195

20.71

117

18.80

145

62.15

15

32.67

Female

99

15.96

57

25.91

52

44.33

3

2.33

Not stated

23

21.00

13

19.23

14

117.68

4

127.5

                 
 

Mus

ns

Cra

ns

Her

ns

Sem

n/a

Male

121

5.05

14

68.57

12

49.17

n/a

n/a

Female

54

1.70

2

30.00

12

138.75

n/a

n/a

Not stated

18

3.06

6

73.50

11

533.45

n/a

n/a

             

1

0

 

Ket

ns

LSD

ns

Ext

Bar

ns

Male

21

17.71

167

7.78

258

26.36

8

11.38

Female

11

10.42

57

7.40

139

23.09

5

1.20

Not stated

4

10.00

16

4.72

26

16.37

2

7.50

                 
 

Tra

ns

Sol

ns

Met

ns

GHB

Male

16

5.16

4

1.75

5

20.00

   

Female

12

3.48

3

5.00

1

0

   

Not stated

2

2.00

1

8.50

3

1.67

   
                 
 

Pop

ns

Ste

ns

       

Male

40

5.33

1

25.00

       

Female

14

6.11

2

7.50

       

Not stated

4

2.78

1

0

       
                 

Subjective ratings of drugs by sex (0-10 scale)

 

TC rt

***

Tob rt

***

Alc rt

ns

Can rt

ns

 

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

n

mean

Male

829

5.92

784

3.56

805

6.10

825

8.32

Female

552

6.50

502

4.31

537

6.39

520

8.23

Not stated

99

5.47

91

4.42

96

6.34

96

8.06

                 
 

Amp rt

ns

Bas rt

ns

Coc rt

ns

Opi rt

*

Male

577

4.79

415

5.00

498

6.30

276

5.33

Female

332

4.86

221

4.90

279

5.84

158

4.54

Not stated

62

4.26

46

4.37

52

6.62

29

4.69

                 
 

Mus rt

*

Cra rt

**

Her rt

*

Sem rt

ns

Male

529

7.48

223

2.64

241

2.80

101

1.75

Female

288

6.79

126

1.93

146

2.86

82

1.57

Not stated

62

7.71

24

4.67

27

5.00

10

0.50

                 
 

Ket rt

*

LSD rt

*

Ext rt

*

Bar rt

ns

Male

226

3.44

526

7.11

492

7.23

169

2.38

Female

142

2.87

282

6.39

305

6.74

105

2.45

Not stated

27

4.89

55

6.73

57

7.54

17

2.29

                 
 

Tra rt

ns

Sol rt

ns

Met rt

ns

GHB rt

ns

Male

195

2.65

201

1.50

164

1.74

139

2.47

Female

140

3.28

128

1.49

99

1.90

93

2.27

Not stated

22

2.50

23

2.04

18

2.72

15

2.93

                 
 

Pop rt

ns

Ste rt

ns

Oth rt

ns

   

Male

366

2.97

142

1.07

67

5.90

   

Female

228

2.86

89

1.07

34

6.71

   

Not stated

38

2.61

17

1.94

5

6.60

   

Abbreviations:

Drugs: T/C - tea/coffee; Tob - Tobacco; Alc - alcohol, Can - cannabis, Amp - amphetamine, Bas - base amphetamine (purer); Coc - cocaine, Opi - opium, Mush - mushrooms, Cra - crack cocaine, Her - heroin, Sem - Semeron (bogus drug/trick question), Ket - ketamine, Ext - Ecstasy/MDMA, Bar - Barbiturates, Tra - Tranquilliers, Sol - Solvents/Glue, Met - Methadone, GHB - gamma-hydroxybutyrate, Pop - poppers (amyl nitrate), Ste - Steroids, Oth - Other drugs.

Variables: 1st - Age at first use of (drug), - Spending per month on (drug), rt - subjective rating of drug on 0-10 scale.

Statistical significance: ns - not significant (p>0.1), † - borderline (p>.051<.099), * - p<.05, ** - p<.01, *** - p<.001 (compared money spent by those respondents spending only, analysis excludes ‘nil’ values unless specified.

Relative Prevalence

The relative prevalence ratio is derived from the numbers of males and females trying each drug relative to the numbers of respondents of each sex. If all (i.e. inc not stated) sexes were equally likely to try a drug then the ratio would be 1.000. Figures above 1 show a higher likelihood of having tried a drug, below 1 a lower likelihood.

Drug

Sex

Relative prevalence

Tea/Coffee

Male

0.999

 

Female

1.046

 

Not stated

0.823

Tobacco

Male

1.002

 

Female

1.031

 

Not stated

0.860

Alcohol

Male

0.992

 

Female

1.047

 

Not stated

0.863

Cannabis

Male

1.003

 

Female

1.025

 

Not stated

0.882

Amphet

Male

1.048

 

Female

0.957

 

Not stated

0.848

Base amphet

Male

1.087

 

Female

0.888

 

Not stated

0.867

Cocaine

Male

1.060

 

Female

0.927

 

Not stated

0.893

Opium

Male

1.110

 

Female

0.826

 

Not stated

0.969

Mushrooms

Male

1.093

 

Female

0.880

 

Not stated

0.861

Crack

Male

1.143

 

Female

0.706

 

Not stated

1.228

Heroin

Male

1.074

 

Female

0.830

 

Not stated

1.194

Semeron

Male

0.750

 

Female

0.831

 

Not stated

3.374

Ketamine

Male

1.078

 

Female

0.896

 

Not stated

0.891

LSD

Male

1.061

 

Female

0.927

 

Not stated

0.882

Ecstasy

Male

1.038

 

Female

0.969

 

Not stated

0.868

Barbiturates

Male

1.129

 

Female

0.713

 

Not stated

1.295

Tranquillisers

Male

0.924

 

Female

1.160

 

Not stated

0.863

Solvents

Male

1.085

 

Female

0.867

 

Not stated

0.964

Methadone

Male

1.091

 

Female

0.719

 

Not stated

1.524

GHB

Male

1.090

 

Female

0.858

 

Not stated

0.968

Poppers

Male

1.025

 

Female

0.995

 

Not stated

0.851

Steroids

Male

0.837

 

Female

1.012

 

Not stated

2.054

Others

Male

1.073

 

Female

0.906

 

Not stated

0.891

Commentary

Although men in general take more drugs more often, spend more on drugs, and have more positive attitudes towards drugs, this effect is most marked with legal drugs. The group with the highest level of drug use tended to be those who refused to disclose their sex on the questionnaire.

Women were slightly more likely than men to have reported using caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, ‘semeron’, tranquillisers, and steroids, and less likely to have tried the other drugs listed. The greatest variation was among the ‘not stated’ group. Men used more cannabis more frequently than women, and also more alcohol.

Male cocaine users, and cannabis users, tended to spend more on these drugs than female users, though there were no other significant sex differences in spending on illegal drugs.

There were few significant sex differences in the age at which drugs were first used.

It will be interesting to note how the rating of, and prevalence of GHB use, may change in future years if it is added to the controlled drugs list.

Source - Atha MJ, Blanchard S & Davis S (2000) - Regular Users IV - IDMU Publications

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