Men Are More Likely To Take Illegal Drugs Than Women, Survey Finds

·3-min read
Photo credit: Aleli Dezmen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Aleli Dezmen - Getty Images

If you're wondering how your average 'Friday night in lockdown' stacked up against the rest of the nation, a survey has revealed the extent of the UK's drug and alcohol use during the pandemic. Men are more likely than women to take illegal drugs, it revealed, with 38% more men using cocaine during last year's lockdowns compared to women.

When private rehab clinic Delamere asked 2,000 Brits about their substance use during the pandemic, they found alcohol consumption to be fairly even across the sexes, with 50% of men and 49% of women having drunk in the last year. But when it came to drug use, three in five men (59%) had taken drugs, compared to 52% of women.

In total, an estimated 3.2 million people in the UK used drugs over the course of the last year, with 2.1% of the population thought to be 'frequent' drug users. Cannabis took the top spot, with the findings indicating that the drug is almost more commonly used in the country than paracetamol.

“Due to the pandemic, many people were forced to be together for prolonged periods which can cause many problems, even for the happiest of family units,” said Mike Delaney, a nurse, psychotherapist, and the clinical director for Delamere. “When relationships are strained, going out to work and doing things in the evenings can be the de-stressors which people need. (continued below)


“When people are forced to be together day in, day out without respite, chemicals such as cocaine can improve mood, make conversation and connection easier and simply make life seem a little less bleak. This seems to be particularly the case in men who find it hard to discuss feelings whereas women tend to enjoy a more emotionally intimate relationship.”

While men were more likely to take illegal drugs, women had a higher use of prescription drugs such as Diazepam and Ritalin, and over the counter (OTC) medication like Nytol. Women were 60% more likely to dishonestly obtain a prescription through their GP, whereas men were twice as likely to use the dark web to source drugs.

Men are almost three times (32%) more likely to be worried about how substance use is affecting their lives compared to women – where 24% said the same. Interestingly, men were also much more likely to seek help than women, with 52% more men than women seeking help.

“Historically, men seem to have found it more difficult to seek help, so it’s positive to see this trend of men being prepared to seek support for substance use issues,” says Doctor Terry Spokes, Outcomes & Recovery Director at Delamere. “There are many reasons why it can be beneficial to seek help cutting down or cutting out drug and alcohol use.

“First and foremost it is safer to detox from drugs and alcohol with medical support. Secondly, cutting down drug and alcohol use is not just about removing the substance from your life. Accessing support can help you to understand the role that substances are playing in your life and to explore healthier more adaptive ways of meeting those needs.”

Need support? Visit the Frank website to find local drug and alcohol treatment services.

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