A drop in the quality of illegal drugs on the UK's streets has led to an increase in users interchanging and mixing the drugs they take.
Drug takers are now mixing a powerful concoction of illegal drugs in an attempt to "top up" as they are no longer able to receive the same quality they did in the past, a new survey has claimed.
Police forces around the country have reported a drop in the quality of powder and crack cocaine, for example, with one constabulary reporting seizing cocaine powder with purity levels of just two per cent.
Twelve out of 20 areas surveyed also reported a decline in heroin quality, while the majority of areas also highlighted a fall in the MDMA content in ecstasy pills and a continuation of the long-term trend in poor quality amphetamine.
The DrugScope street drug trends 2009 questioned some 70 drug services, police forces, drug action teams and service user groups in 20 towns and cities across the UK.
This year's findings show a fall in the reported quality of illegal drugs available in most areas.
The survey suggests the drop in the quality of drugs reported on UK streets could be accelerating a longer term trend towards "poly drug use" – where users take a variety of different substances in combination or at different times in an attempt to counter low quality drugs or experiment with alternatives.
Some of the respondents in the annual survey added the switch to using a concoction of drugs, could mean they become less concerned about the quality of each individual substance.
The survey found that in some areas of the country teenagers and younger adults are combining substances such as cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, cannabis and alcohol.
Commenting on the findings, DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said: "The shifting patterns of drug use identified in this year's survey are a reminder of the challenges faced by drug treatment services and police forces across the country.
"While overall levels of drug use have remained relatively stable in recent years, the range of substances appearing on the radar of drug services and enforcement agencies appears to be increasing.
"There has been a long-standing trend towards people using a varied menu of drugs, but it could be increasing because of the low quality substances that appear to be dominating the UK street drug market."
He added: "The fact that older teens and young adults are increasingly combining substances including ketamine, cocaine, cannabis and cheap high-strength alcohol is particularly concerning. It's essential that adult and young people's treatment services have the capacity to support people who develop problems with a range of substances, including emerging drugs like ketamine and GHB."
He also raised concern at the number of drugs agencies reporting problems with youngster taking "legal highs" such as GBL (gammabutyrolactone) and mephedrone.
Friday September 11, 2009
In The News