Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

'One in four' Scots has taken drugs

cannabis plant
Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, said the survey

A quarter of adults have admitted taking illegal drugs at some point in their lives, a report released by the Scottish government has suggested.

Cannabis was the most common drug, the publication said, followed by amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine.

Ministers said Scotland still faced a long battle ahead to transform its relationship with drugs.

The report was based on the responses of 10,974 people, as part of the crime and justice survey 2008-09.

It said one in four adults reported taking one or more illicit drugs at some point in their lives, while one in 13 said they had used one or more illicit drugs in the year prior to the survey.

Drugs remain a major problem for us as a country
Gordon Meldrum
Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency

Almost a quarter said they had used cannabis at some point, with 7.5% saying they had taken amphetamines, followed by ecstasy (7.2%) and cocaine (6.6%).

Men reported higher levels of illicit drug use than women, while 41% of 16 to 24-year-olds said they had taken drugs at some point, with the proportion for 25 to 44-year-olds at 40%.

Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency boss Gordon Meldrum said the survey also showed more than nine out of 10 Scots had "no truck" with drugs in the last year.

He said drug enforcement and education was improving, but warned: "Drugs remain a major problem for us as a country.

"Heroin is still killing people every week and there are threats from stronger strains of cannabis, cocaine, and so-called 'legal highs'."

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing also gave the report a cautious welcome.

He said it showed less people were taking drugs over the course of their lives, but added: "This is just a small step in the right direction and there is still a long battle ahead to turn around Scotland's damaging relationship with drugs.

"We are under no illusions about the very real problems still being experienced by too many families and communities across Scotland and we will continue to fight as hard as we can to get the message across that drugs destroy lives and bring misery to communities."

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