Drug misuse

Hospital admissions for drug-related conditions is rising, but the rate of drug misuse in young people is falling.

Drug-taking risks

Drug-taking can cause significant social problems and carries significant risks.

In 2010/11, there were 6,640 admissions to hospital with a primary diagnosis of a drug-related mental health and behavioural disorder. More than twice as many males were admitted than females in this year. These figures show a 14.3 per cent increase on the previous year (2009/10), when there were 5,809 hospital admissions (1).

Hospital admissions of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders in England (2000/01)

NHS hospital admissions where there was a primary3 or secondary diagnosis of drug related mental health

Source: NHS Information Centre (2011). Report. Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2011

In 2010, the total number of deaths related to drug misuse was 1,784 in England and Wales. Of those, 77 per cent were male. The most common underlying cause of death was from accidental poisoning (1).

Adults and drug use

Drugs misuse among adults (16-59 years), in England and Wales, has increased from 30.5 per cent in 1996 to 36.3 per cent in 2010/11 (2).

In 2010/11, 3 per cent of adults had used a Class A drug in the last year, compared with 3.1 per cent in 2009/10. This shows a long term increase from 2.7 per cent in 1996 (2). 

Both drug dependence and misuse vary by ethnicity and income. Adults from the white ethnic group had higher levels of illicit drug use (9 per cent) than those from non-white backgrounds (5.8 per cent). Households in the lowest income groups also had the highest levels of drug misuse (3).

Young people and drug misuse

The percentage of young people (16-24 years) who have taken illegal/illicit drugs or children (11-15 years) who have taken or been offered illegal/illicit drugs illegal drugs has fallen (1).

In 2010/11, 20 per cent of young people had used one or more illegal/illicit drug in the previous year a reduction from 30 per cent in 1996. In 2010/11, 12 per cent of children reported taking drugs in the past year, a fall from 20 per cent in 2001. The percentage of young people taking class A drugs is also falling, and was 6.6 per cent in 2010/11, down from 9.2 per cent in 1996. Mark Easton has written an interesting blog on the fall in drug, alcohol and tobacco use amongst teenagers.

Trends in drug use among all pupils aged 11-15 (2001-2010)

Trends in drug use amongst all pupils aged 11-15 (2001-2011)

Source: NHS Information Centre (2011). Report. Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2011

For more on young people and trends in health, see our pages on obesity, alcohol, smoking and sexual behaviour.

Next page: Sexual behaviour >

References

  1. NHS Information Centre (2011). Report. Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2011
  2. NHS Information Centre (2011). Statistical Bulletin. Statistics on drugs misuse
  3. The Home Office (2012). Statistical Bulletin. Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey