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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 11:34 GMT
Drug users turn away from ecstasy
Ecstasy tablets
Changing tastes may explain the decline in ecstasy use
The number of young people taking ecstasy has fallen for the first time while cocaine use is on the rise, according to new Home Office figures.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) reveals changing patterns among the one million Class A drug users in England and Wales, with ecstasy use down 20%.

Changes in fashion is one reason given for the decline in the "dance drug" commonly used by clubbers in the 1990s.

Cannabis remains the most popular drug, with three million users.

The survey for 2002/03 showed that more than a third of 16-59 year olds had used one or more illicit drugs in their lifetime, and 13% had used Class A drugs at least once.

Falling prices

Despite decreases this year in the use of amphetamines, LSD and steriods, the increases in the use of cannabis, cocaine and crack led to a rise in Class A and overall drug use.

DRUG USE 2002/03
Four million 16-59 year olds took an illicit drug during the year
One million had taken a Class A drug
16-24 year olds were more likely to have used drugs than older people

Around 12,000 more people had used Class A drugs compared to the previous year.

But the use of ecstasy - the so-called 'ravers' drug - had fallen by more than one fifth.

The dance music scene in the UK has suffered in the past year, with many of the major clubs closing down.

The survey of almost 36,500 households found that cocaine was becoming increasingly popular among 20-24 year olds.

The report said the availability and falling price of cocaine may be a reason behind the increase.

Researchers said more research was needed to explore the reasons for changing drug use patterns.

"Demand factors might include changes in fashion around drugs, and in having the money to buy drugs," said the report.

The government's drug strategy aims to reduce the use of Class A drugs and the "frequent use of any illicit drug" among all young people under 25, especially those deemed to be "vulnerable."




SEE ALSO:
Drug use up at dance resorts
30 Nov 03  |  Merseyside
Ecstasy: Is the party over?
29 Jul 02  |  UK News
Ecstasy could ease crime trauma
24 Nov 03  |  Health
Cream 'superclub' leaves Liverpool
12 Sep 02  |  England


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