Ecstasy use soars to 10-year high among UK youth

© Francisco Bonilla
The highest proportion of young Brits are taking ecstasy than at any other point in the past decade, new figures have revealed.

Just over one in 20 young people aged between 16 and 24 said they had taken the Class A drug during the previous year, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) noted, the highest rate since 2003/4.

While the overall proportion of young people admitting to taking drugs had fallen over the past 10 years, the use of ecstasy was described by the CSEW as “statistically significant.”

In 2003/4, the proportion admitting to using ecstasy was 5.5 percent. The levels then fell, but rose again to 5.4 percent in 2013/14.

The Home Office report said it could not be proven whether the results were part of a trend, or simply a fluctuation.

The report noted: “Although the long-term trend in last year’s ecstasy use among young adults shows many fluctuations, the overall long-term direction before the recent increases was downward. It is too early to say whether the latest estimates show a change in the direction of the trend, or another fluctuation.”

The report further examined the popularity of legal highs, many of which have recently been outlawed under the new Conservative administration.

It found that although they have been touted as the most popular new drugs, use among adults between 16 and 59 was “generally low” when compared to the use of more established drugs, such as cannabis or cocaine.

CSEW noted that nearly one percent of adults had taken a legal high, or new psychoactive substance (NPS) in the past year, a total of 279,000 people.

Younger adults, aged 16 to 24 were nearly three times as likely to have tried a NPS, with 2.8 percent having taken one in the past year and 6.1 percent saying they had tried one during their lifetime.

Over twice as many young men, 128,000, said they had taken a legal high during the past year than young women, of whom only 47,000 admitted to trying NPSs.

Legal highs were usually bought in person, the report found, with 34 percent buying them from a shop and the same amount purchasing them from a friend or colleague. Just 8 percent were bought from a dealer and only 6 percent were bought on the internet.