Cocaine use up but other drugs stable
There has been a significant rise in the use of cocaine powder in the last decade, according to new figures released by the Home Office. The biggest increase occurred between 1998 and 2000, while last year 375,000 young people are estimated to have used the drug. Overall illegal drug use in England and Wales, however, remained stable between 2005/06 and 2006/07, while use of cannabis has fallen across all groups since 2003/04, according to Drug misuse declared: findings of the 2006/07 British Crime Survey. Use of 'magic mushrooms' has fallen significantly, while figures relating to heroin use remain stable. Overall illicit drug use by 16-59 year olds was at its lowest level since the BCS started measurement in 1996, largely as a result of declining cannabis use. Among the 16 to 24 age group, use of any drug had fallen from 31 per cent to 24 per cent, while use of Class A drugs remained stable. Some agencies have urged caution in interpreting the figures, however, since British Crime Survey statistics are compiled from voluntary household surveys and exclude sections of the population such as prisoners and homeless people whose rates of drug use are likely to be high. 'We are not complacent and know that there is still a lot of work to do in tackling drug misuse - especially cocaine,' said Home Office minister Vernon Coaker. 'Drug taking wreaks enormous damage on individuals, their families and our communities, and we are determined to continue our efforts and bring drug use down even further.' 'British Crime Survey figures suggest that overall drug use among the general population remained stable since last year, with an overall downward trend in the last ten years,' said chief executive of DrugScope, Martin Barnes. 'This is clearly encouraging news but we cannot be complacent. The continued use of cocaine powder, particularly among young people, is of concern. It is important that we stay focused on addressing the serious drug problems that users, families and the wider community still face.'