World's biggest drug survey launches in UK

Global Drug Survey will reveal what hundreds of thousands of people think about drugs - and how they use them

Benjamin Kentish
Wednesday 21 December 2016 11:11 GMT
How and why people use cannabis is one of the things the survey hopes to uncover
How and why people use cannabis is one of the things the survey hopes to uncover (Getty)

The world’s biggest drug survey has launched in the UK, with hundreds of thousands of people across the globe set to take part in the international study.

The Global Drug Survey, which was started in 2011 and runs every year, is organised by a network of researchers, doctors and charities from over 20 countries. It asks people about their experiences of, and attitudes towards, drugs.

This year’s survey, of which The Independent is a partner, will explore issues including the medicinal use of cannabis, how the dark net is helping people buy illegal drugs, the impact of the new UK ban on so-called “legal highs”, such as laughing gas (nitrous oxide), and whether drug laws really make a difference in reducing drug use.

The anonymous survey aims to focus on areas of drugs policy that are often overlooked by academics and government research. It looks at patterns of drug use and aims to identify new trends in how people in countries across the world are using drugs.

More than 100,000 people have already taken part in this year’s survey, which is published in ten different languages. The poll’s organisers expect the final total to exceed 150,000 by the time it closes on 10 January.

Dr Adam Winstock, a consultant psychiatrist based in London who founded the survey, said: “While most research focuses on drug harms and people in treatment or those who get caught up in the criminal justice system, we put our efforts into the hidden masses of people for who using drugs is just one of number of things they do.

“We want to help people make smarter decisions and help then use drugs more safely.”

Last year’s Global Drug Survey revealed a rise in the number of people buying drugs on the dark net. It also found drug users were three times more likely to require emergency medical treatment after using “legal highs”, including a number of newly-produced mind-altering chemicals sold under names such as “Bliss” or “Clockwork Orange”, than after using traditional illegal drugs.

The results of the 2017 survey will be published next May.

The Global Drug Survey can be accessed here.

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