What Are the Most Popular UK Drugs and What do They Do?

What Are the Most Popular UK Drugs and What do They Do?

Every country has its problem with drugs and the UK is no exception. But what drugs are the most popular in the UK and what do they actually do? Ta

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Every country has its problem with drugs and the UK is no exception. But what drugs are the most popular in the UK and what do they actually do?

Taking recreational drugs is illegal in the UK, but it is commonplace and good to understand what will happen if you are under peer pressure to take drugs.

Some people choose not to follow the rules and take recreational drugs, but others have no idea what these drugs even do. If you’re involved in the use and supply of recreational drugs that are deemed illegal you should read up on the defences of intent to supply.

For those people who have never taken illegal drugs, we’re going to give you a run-down of the most popular drugs in the UK and what they do to the human body.

The Most Popular Drugs in the UK and Their Effect on the Human Body

We’re going to start with the most popular recreational drug used in the UK and work our way through the top three. Without further ado, here are the most popular drugs in the UK and what they do:

1. Cannabis

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), since the year ending December 1995 cannabis has consistently been the most-used drug in England and Wales. In the year 2020, 7.8 percent of adults aged 16 to 59 years reported using cannabis in the last year.

To put that into perspective, that’s around 2.6 million people, which is much higher than the next most used recreational drug at around 873,000 people. It’s also by far the most popular drug used by young adults with 18.7%, around 1.2mil, using the drug in 2020.

So, why do all these people choose to take cannabis?

Cannabis contains the psychoactive substance THC, which stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, giving you a euphoric, relaxed feeling. Typically, the THC gets you high within minutes and can last around 1-3 hours.

However, weed can leave you feeling anxious, afraid, or panicked if you have a ‘bad trip’. It can also worsen any mental disorders you have and can make you extremely paranoid if taken in high doses.

It should be noted that there is a debate raging over the use of cannabis for medical purposes, leading to its legalisation in many countries and US states. In the UK, however, cannabis is rarely used in this way. That said, there is news that the NHS are going to trial the use of cannabis oil in 2021.

2. Powder cocaine

The second most commonly used drug in the UK is powder cocaine. A substantial 2.6 percent of 16- to 59-year-olds, and 5.3 percent of young adults aged 16 to 24, reported using this drug in 2020, making up a collective 873,000 people.

To put that into perspective, the prevalence of powder cocaine is four times higher than it was in 1995 where only 0.6 percent of people aged 16 to 59 reported using the drug. However, peak use was between 2009 and 2013 after which the prevalence begun to drop.

Why do people take powder cocaine?

When you take powder cocaine you feel happy, excited, confident and gain a huge boost in energy levels. It takes around 1 to 3 minutes to kick in and only lasts 15 to 30 minutes in total, which is why many people choose to keep taking it to extend the high.

Despite the positive effects, cocaine can often make you feel overconfident, agitated, and restless. On top of that, it can:

  • Make your heart beat more quickly
  • Raise your body temperature
  • Severely reduce your appetite
  • Make you feel sick
  • Make you need to go to the toilet excessively
  • Make you panicky
  • Make you paranoid

3. Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy, or MDMA, is the third most popular recreational drug in the UK. Unlike the other two drugs mentioned on this list, Ecstasy use has remained relatively stable since the data was first collected in December 1995.

This amounts to around 1.4 percent of 16- to 59-year-olds and 4 percent of young adults aged 16 to 24, so approximately 254,000 people in total.

How does ecstasy make you feel?

The clue is in the title with this one. It makes you feel:

  • Overly happy
  • Love and affection for the people around you
  • Alert and full of energy

Some people report that music feels more intense on ecstasy and that they’re more in tune with their surroundings, hence why they often take it at parties and nightclubs.

However, as with all the drugs on this list, there is a huge downside. People who use ecstasy have reported strong feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, paranoia and psychosis. It can also make them chatty and uninhibited leading them to share secrets about themselves.

On the physical side, ecstasy can also dilate your pupils, give you a tingling sensation, tighten your jaw and force you to gurn (move the jaw muscles around continuously). It also raises your body temperature, increases your heartbeat, and makes you nauseous.

Are Drugs Illegal?

In this post, we’ve managed to cover the three most popular recreational drugs in the UK and how each of them makes you feel.

We’ve tried our best to give an honest overview of these drugs so that you know exactly what the positives and the negatives are. However, you have to remember that these drugs are illegal in the UK and should not be bought, sold or taken.

That being said, if you ever do find yourself in a situation where you’re under the influence of one of these recreational drugs it’s good to know what they do to the human body. Statistically, 7.8 percent of the people who read this article will consume cannabis, so at least now you’ll know what you’re in for.

If you feel under pressure to take drugs, the UK Public Health service have trained advisers in their talk to Frank service.