The British Crime Survey found that while many 16 to 29-year-olds have taken drugs at some point, most claim they have taken them merely on a one-off basis or only occasionally. One in four have taken drugs in the past 12 months while one in seven admit to being regular users.
Cannabis is the most commonly used drug - and is twice as popular among younger people than other drugs.
The 1994 study, based on interviews with 10,000 people aged 16-59, gives a fascinating insight into drug use in Britain.
Not surprisingly drug use declines with age. Teenagers aged between 16 and 19 were most likely to be users, with one in five claiming to have taken drugs in the past month against 46 per cent ever.
A breakdown of under 30s who took stimulants at some point found 14 per cent had tried amphetamines or speed, 13 per cent poppers, 10 per cent magic mushrooms, 9 per cent LSD and 6 per cent ecstasy.
Just 3 per cent of under 30s had tried cocaine and less than 1 per cent had ever experimented with harder drugs like heroin, crack or methadone.
People living in London, other inner-cities or areas with large numbers of young people were more likely to have had contact with drugs.
Other strong indicators included people who were heavy drinkers, single, were away from home a lot, out of work, or lived in a poorer household, the survey found.
Afro-Caribbeans were more likely to use cannabis and crack than whites, who favoured speed, it said.
The findings will be used as background information by drug action teams as part of the Government's drugs strategy.Reuse content