Drug use among middle-aged Brits rising as ‘rave’ generation keeps old habits
A Home Office report published in July shows there has been a decline in drug use among youngsters, but a rise in middle-aged adults taking illegal substances.
The number of 16- to 39-year-olds taking illegal drugs was down from 17.4 percent in 1999 to 13 percent in 2014-15, the report found.
However, drug use among 40- to 59-year-olds had risen from 2.5 percent to 3.6 percent.
In the past year, over half a million middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 took illegal drugs, with nearly 92,000 using cocaine and 400,000 smoking cannabis.
The research also found that half of the middle-aged cannabis users were smoking the substance more than once a month.
Some 0.6 percent of those surveyed aged 40 to 59 had also used cocaine in the past year.
“This follows a rising trend in use among adults since the beginning of the last decade,” the report said.
Some drug experts argue that more middle-aged adults are taking illegal drugs because it is a habit they have carried from their teenage years.
Speaking to RT, drug addiction expert Cathy Simmons, who went to university in 1977, said “I was there,” drug taking was “high” and was the norm for students in the ’70s.
“All the cannabis and weed that was available then was much tamer than the skunk that is around now,” she said.
Drug takers in the ’70s “didn’t have the variety there is now” and it could be argued that “it wasn’t deemed as dangerous as what is available now so they may have continued on a recreational basis,” she added.
Those born in the 1970s, half of them now in their 40s, grew up when ‘rave’ drugs were at their peak.
Entering their teenage years in the ’90s, many of them began to experiment with Class A drugs as it was “the norm.”
Mark Donne, 39, told the Independent drugs were “ubiquitous in Margate in the 1990s.” He was introduced to ecstasy through the rave scene.
He admitted to mainly taking drugs on the weekends as it became a “regular thing.”
“Any kind of anxiety we might have had that it was illegal just evaporated. Everyone was testing these things out,” he added.
The Home Office estimates 1.5 million ecstasy tablets were being taken every weekend in 1995.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that 47 percent of high school students had used marijuana at least once, with 10 percent admitting they had tried a form of cocaine.
“This is probably no more than the fact that regular users are getting older and now fall into that age bracket,” international drugs policy advisor Tom Lloyd told RT.
He said it would be “more helpful” to examine the consumption of all mind-altering substances, particularly alcohol, in order to draw conclusions about patterns of drug use across different age groups.
Lloyd said middle-aged adults are “probably just carrying on” with their old “enjoyable” practices.
Drug expert Harry Shapiro told the Times he suspects older people who smoke cannabis recreationally would regard it as “not much different” than someone who decides to have a gin and tonic at home.
A British Crime Survey published in 2011 shows one in three adults in England and Wales have used illicit drugs in their lifetime.
“We are working with our independent experts, the Advisory Council on the misuse of drugs, to look more closely at older drug users and how best to responds to their specific needs,” a spokesperson from the Home Office said in a statement.