Class A drug use hits record high as milennial ecstasy and cocaine
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Harry Shapiro, the director of awareness group DrugWise, told the Telegraph: “There is a lot of cocaine available in the country these days. A Government spokesman said: “While overall levels of drug misuse are similar to a decade ago, the Government is concerned about the upward trend in more recent years – particularly Class A use.“We are committed to reducing the use of drugs and the harms they cause and the Home Office has commissioned a major independent review to examine these issues.” Record numbers of people are taking Class A drugs, figures have shown as experts blamed the cocaine and ecstasy habits of millennials for the rise. The Home Office said 3.7% of 16 to 59-year-olds admitted taking the most dangerous substances in 2018/19 – the highest rate since records began in 1996. This equates to around 1.3 million people and marks a peak after years of increasing abuse since 2011/12, according to findings from the Crime Survey of England and Wales.Around 8.7% of young adults reported using Class A drugs in the last year – equating to around 550,000 people – taking it to the highest estimate for 16 to 24-year-olds since 2002/03.An explosion in the number of festivals each year was highlighted as one potential driver behind the trend, while the increasing availability of cocaine was said to have helped lose its reputation as a drug for professionals.Powder cocaine has become increasing popular among 16 to 24-year-olds in recent years, jumping from 4.1% who had used it in the past year in 2011/12 to 6.2% in 2018/19.The use of ecstasy by young adults has also been rising during the same period after a “gradually downward trend”, with 5.4% of 16 to 24-year-olds having taken the party drug in the last year. “Although to some extent it still has an element of a sort-of ‘champagne’ image around it, I don’t think it is that unusual anymore – I don’t think people imagine they are crossing a line, if they have the odd line.“What’s interesting about ecstasy is that there are some very strong pills out there, but (the rise) may also be linked to the explosion of festivals that we’ve had in recent years.“We have gone from Reading and Glastonbury and a couple of others over the summer to almost every weekend there is half a dozen festivals going on somewhere. “I think festivals give young people in their mid to late teens an opportunity to be away from prying eyes and experiment with things.”The majority of ecstasy and powder cocaine users aged 16 to 59 reported only taking the drugs once or twice a year, rather than more frequently, the report said.More broadly, overall drug use was found to have slightly increased – with roughly one in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 taking an illicit substance in the past year. It comes as drug-related deaths in England and Wales reached the highest level since records began earlier this year, with deaths involving cocaine doubling in three years to 2018.