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I.D.M.U. have conducted surveys of drug users since 1982, and have consistently found students to use significantly fewer drugs less often and less heavily than their unemployed or working contemporaries, to the extent that studies of students are of limited applicability to young people in general. We have been refining our questionnaires over the years, and currently receive over 1000 completed questionnaires per year.

IDMU now monitors factors including initiation to drug use (age at first use of individual drugs), frequency of use, amount used and/or spent on individual drugs, drug prices, attitudes (ratings out of 10), drug experiences, health problems and benefits, methods of use, drug and other criminal records, driving, politics, demographics etc, and others too numerous to mention (and in many cases analyse or publish). From a commercial point of view we need up to date information on prices and consumption in order to provide expert evidence for the criminal courts - our core business - however we recognise the value of our database for the research community, and welcome any offers of collaboration in the preparation of research papers.

Our database contains comparable information from nearly 15000 users, and can allow individual subsamples to be placed within a wider context. I would urge you to visit and check out our online versions of 'Regular Users' (1994 data) and evidence provided to the House of Lords enquiry on cannabis, which included analyses of use by duration. You would probably find our data on initiation most useful for your project, and you might also find the apparent effects of a drug arrest of interest. You should urge your library to order a full copy of Regular Users (including figures and tables) direct from IDMU. Regular Users II (1997 data) now available. The House of Lords submission (minus references) was published by HMSO in the companion volume of evidence given to the enquiry. The first illegal drug used by the vast majority of current users is underage alcohol or tobacco. Use of drugs other than cannabis is very rare among children under 16, initiation to e.g. LSD, mushrooms or amphetamine would typically occur after leaving school, a period when users will experiment a wide variety of drugs, but settle down to a pattern of regular cannabis use with or without occasional use of other drugs.

The proportion of all users who develop problematic levels of use of 'hard drugs' is very small, only a minority of those who have tried heroin, for example, would be regular or daily users. Most users would follow the 'up top down' pattern identified by Cohen & Sas.

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