sex,drugs and rock 'n' roll

HEROIN is enjoying a revival. Customs and Excise seizures last year were double the previous record haul. 1,200 kilos of heroin, worth more than pounds 150m, were seized in 1995 compared with 620 kilos in 1994. Positive portrayals in films and novels such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotters help increase its appeal, as do falling prices. According to Greg Poulter, deputy director of Release, the national drugs advice agency, the price of heroin has fallen to pounds 40 a gram in some parts of the country compared with pounds 90 four years ago.

Total COCAINE seized by the police in 1994 was up by 190 per cent. Seizures are running at around 2,200 kilos per year as opposed to 560 kilos in 1990 and 1,000 kilos in 1991. According to Customs deputy chief investigations officer Dick Brown, two-kilo seizures at Heathrow are now routine and officers have come to expect at least four 100-kilo seizures a year.

Falling prices have made CRACK an economical buy. The price has dropped recently from a fixed pounds 30 a rock to anything from pounds 10-pounds 30 a rock depending on how much you buy and this price fall has triggered an increase in usage. "One of the main reasons why crack never took off in this country like it did in the States is because it was fairly expensive," says Paul Watson. "One hit lasts only minutes, so it was a vastly expensive drug to the unemployed. Now that the price has come down, crack use has started to climb."

LSD is huge with the under-20s. Figures from the National Criminal Intelligence Service show seizures of LSD in Britain last year were 45 per cent up on 1993. Paul Watson of Lifeline, a Manchester-based drugs charity, says "This is what I call a pocket money drug. At pounds 2.50 for a tab of acid which can last up to 12 hours, its very cost effective and very easy for teenagers to buy - so they do."

Also big with the under-20s are AMPHETAMINES (speed), CANNABIS, and the ubiquitous ECSTASY. There have been suggestions that ECSTASY has had its day. But the latest available Home Office figures show Home Office figures for 1994 reveal seizures of the drug rose by more than 50 per cent across the UK in 1994. Some 3,600 seizures were made last year - more than 700,000 doses - compared with 400 seizures in 1990. In over a third of police forces, Ecstasy was the most frequently seized Class A drug.

ALCOHOL is bouncing back from a fall from grace among the young, reflected in desperate marketing attempts to prove to the younger market that it's fun to drink. Alcoholic lemonades and colas have helped to make 18-24 year olds the heaviest drinking age-group. "Alcohol is still popular; 15- and 16-year-olds like getting pissed," says Jez Buffin of Lifeline.

POPPERS (amyl nitrate), traditionally associated with gays, are also popular with 20-somethings, according to Jez Buffin. "They are both cheap and legal. In Manchester there are whole pockets of users who combine cannabis, LSD and poppers."


KETAMINE is a minority taste. "It was originally introduced as an adulterant in other drugs, such as Ecstasy," says Jez Buffin. "Nobody at that stage was seeking it out, though now there are small pockets of people who will take it for its own sake."

TEMAZEPAM users are found in pockets concentrated in Scotland, especially Glasgow, and Cumbria. Readily available and cheap, but often used as a secondary drug - heroin or speed users will use it to come down. "It's always been a messy drug," says Jez Buffin, "though it's one that flits across all other drug groups."

Was ANGEL DUST ever in? Its only recent media appearance was an obscure scare story about Belgian pate containing traces of it. The dearth of drug-hungry purchasers rushing to delicatessens tells its own story.