The Guardian and Mixmag, in partnership with Global Drugs Survey, have launched the worlds’ biggest and most comprehensive drug-use survey. The anonymous online survey collects information on legal and illegal drug use, including frequency of use, combination drug use, setting and attitudes towards drugs. The survey is also expected to evaluate the worldwide social and legal consequences of drug use including the increase in popularity and use of research chemicals. The report provides drug workers and researchers on an accurate description of emerging drug trends.
Mixmag and Global Drug Survey have been conducting the survey into drug use trends for 10 years in the United Kingdom. Initially published as a hard copy survey in Mixmag magazine, the survey has now been extended to gather data worldwide and has been moved to an online site. The Global Drug Survey is a self-funded independent agency that was founded by Dr Adam Winstock. Dr Winstock is an addictions psychiatrist from London who is interested in gathering data relating to drug use patterns and associated harms. The survey received ethical approval from the Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Trust Ethics Committee. It has been reported that the survey received over 7,000 responses in the first 48 hours, with thousands more expected.
The Global Drug Survey is expected to be the first of its kind and give researchers an honest description of drug use worldwide. Drug surveys tend to be biased and are based on a sample that comes from prison populations, rehabilitation patients or those receiving hospital or psychiatric treatment. This survey is completely anonymous, is based on a much larger sample population and is relevant to a wider demographic. Individuals who do not fit into other sample groups such as recreational or experimental drug users and functional addicts can respond to the survey and have their drug use patterns recorded. These types of drug users are often referred to as the “hidden” group. They do not seek out treatment and use without being harmed or caught. However, they constitute the majority of drug users.
It is expected that the information gathered in this survey will be of benefit to health workers, researchers, law enforcement and academics who can analyze the data and see some of the trends that are emerging worldwide in terms of drug use. This survey in past years has shown the increasing use of research chemicals, especially mephedrone, the rise in use of ketamine and other substances that were not being picked up through other avenues. The 2012 drug survey is also seeking detailed information regarding synthetic cannabis use compared with regular cannabis.
The 2011 Global Drug Survey only collected data from the United Kingdom. Of the respondents, 69 percent were male and 31 percent were female. The majority were between 18 and 27 years old. Of those who responded, 75 percent had used ecstasy. Furthermore, more people had used ecstasy than had smoked a cigarette. The survey also found that 61 percent had tried mephedrone, 75 percent of those doing so after the substance was banned in the UK.
The survey can be completed online, and it takes approximately 15 minutes to finish. Results are expected to be published in April 2012.
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