Drug use amongst women in England and Wales has fallen to a record low for 20 years, according to new data from The Home Office.
According to stats revealed by Crime Survey for England and Wales one in 20 women (5%) aged 16-59 reported using an illicit substance in the past year – the lowest figure since 1996. This number peaked at 8.8% in 2000 and 2004-2004.
Whereas, amongst men this figure has been reported at 11.8% this year. The figure for men was also found to be on the decline.
Susanne Hakimi, from the charity Action on Addiction’s Hope House – a residential treatment centre for women – said drug use among women has been “hidden away behind closed doors”.
“Some women tell us they are afraid to seek help for fear of losing their children. Although addiction generally is still highly stigmatised, we are seeing more women coming to us for treatment for drug use and being a little more open about their recovery. Once this starts to happen, we believe it can be contagious and one person in recovery can, with the right support, encourage and support someone else to recover from addiction.”
The report found that drug use amongst younger people is higher, with 18% of young adults aged 16-24 admitting to haven an illicit drug in the last year. The 2015-2015 report found this number to 19.5%, however this figure was 25.2% in 2005-2006.
Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “These new figures show that drug use has been largely stable over the last five years and continues to be considerably lower than 10 to 15 years ago.”
Despite the decline, cocaine and ecstasy usage saw an increase from people with wealthier backgrounds. Surveying people with incomes of least £50,000 the report found that 3% of people admitted to haven taken cocaine in 2015/2016, whereas this figure stood at 2.2% in 2014/2015. Ecstasy users also increased from 1.5% to 2.2%.
Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of the charity Addaction, said the increases reflected “a cultural shift which has increasingly normalised those substances”.
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