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Market Shares of All Drugs
Among all drugs including the legal ones, nationally, cannabis had a market share of 38.27%. Alcohol was second most used, at 24.81%. It is not surprising that cannabis scored highly, as this survey was directed mainly at cannabis users. The lowest shares were of barbiturates and solvents. There were regional variations, such as more tobacco use reported than cannabis or alcohol in Yorkshire/North East, and a relatively high use of tranquillisers in Scotland. (Table 36)
Taking only the illegal drugs, and solvents, cannabis had the highest share again, of 72.49%, the next largest being Ecstasy with 8.57%. (Table 37)
Of the illegal drugs apart from cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines had the largest share of the UK market, barbiturates and solvents the lowest. (Table 38)
For some drugs, the numbers of respondents in some regions was very small, and the regional market shares may be unduly influenced by individuals (e.g. of 51 respondents from East Anglia, none used heroin or crack, and among the 86 from Yorkshire, 7.3% of total illegal drug use reported was of heroin). These figures are not statistically significant, and certainly do not represent percentages of actual use in those areas. However, some may be indicative, e.g. tranquillisers with a share of 10% of non-cannabis illegal drugs spending in Scotland, which also reported the highest regional price by a significant margin. In several of the tables, regions have been amalgamated for some drug prices to produce enough data to enable useful comparisons.
Comparisons with seizure statistics
Market shares of the total spending on illegal drugs bought by our respondents might be compared with Home Office statistics on seizures of drugs by Police and Customs, nationally and in the various regions. By combining seizures by police areas into regions, it is possible to compare market shares, as determined by our survey statistics, with the proportion of total drugs seizures involving particular drugs. The total amounts of drugs seized are determined primarily by seizures of large quantities at importation level. The total number of seizures of each drug are likely to be a more reliable indicator of prevalence. (Tables 39-41)
Using comparable lists of drugs, cannabis accounted for 69.31% of respondents" total drug spending and 75.31% of the number of seizures nationally. It was the most commonly seized drug, and accounted for the greatest spending, in every region. The next highest number of seizures was of amphetamines, nationally and in every region except "other". Ecstasy had the second highest market share nationally, and in London, the Southeast, and Scotland, with amphetamines second elsewhere. Heroin was the third most common drug seized, and had the fourth highest market share despite relatively small numbers of regular users.
The pattern of drugs seizures is generally similar in terms of absolute percentages to the overall market shares of each drug. However, some drugs were consistently over-represented in seizure statistics when compared to survey data, notably heroin and amphetamine. Drugs which appear consistently underrepresented in seizure statistics include LSD (all regions), cocaine and ecstasy (all regions except London).
Our data would appear to under-represent the prevalence of amphetamine and heroin use among drug users as a whole, particularly in some regions where there were no respondents or only a few respondents buying heroin on a regular basis. Our results will be distorted to some extent by the actual costs of the different drugs, the bias of the survey towards cannabis users, and by the proportions of respondents from each region, determined largely by the distances they had to travel to the festival sites where the data was collected.
The Home Office figures are likely to be affected by regional targeting of specific drugs and/or supply networks, the increased activities of HM Customs in areas with international ports, and the variations in population size and density between regions.
Drug Counselling and treatments
As seen in our previous (1984) survey, very few recreational drug users ever contact drug advice agencies, or seek medical help in relation to drug problems. Among our respondents the use of such services does not appear to be a useful indicator of the prevalence of use, and seems of little value in estimating the prevalence of drug-related problems.
As in 1994, more users reported benefits from cannabis than problems. The 1% of respondents who had been treated for drug addiction included alcohol detox/rehab. 6% had sought drug advice or counselling. It is not clear how many of those treated by "prescription" involved non-drug related ailments.
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