Global drugs survey highlights need for better alcohol and drugs education, says Swanswell

14 April 2014

The results of a worldwide survey of over 80,000 people’s alcohol and drug use highlights the need for better education and clearer information about the harms of misusing substances, according to Swanswell.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding after the Global Drugs Survey 2014 revealed the findings from 43 different countries, the largest research of its kind.

It found more people were moving online to buy illicit drugs and so-called ‘legal highs’, with over a quarter of UK respondents saying they’d bought them over the internet – the highest percentage of people who’d said they’d bought drugs over the web (Guardian).

Alcohol use also caused concern with around 40% of people globally being unaware of their country’s drinking guidelines.

In addition, over a third of British drinkers who had a score of 20 or more on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) – which would suggest dependence – thought their drinking was average or less than average, compared to others.

The annual Global Drugs Survey also found that UK drinkers had some of the highest rates for turning up to work hung-over, with 46% reporting they’d done so in the last 12 months.

Over 20% of respondents in the UK said they’d gone to work while coming down from the effects of drugs – again, among the highest.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While these figures aren’t surprising, they do highlight worrying trends in a number of areas around problem alcohol and drug use.

In the UK for example, increasing numbers of people are turning to the internet to buy drugs, there’s confusion around drinking guidelines, and comparatively high numbers of people are turning up to work with hangovers or are coming down from the effects of drugs.

It’s clear from the results that existing health messages aren’t getting through, so we need a more integrated approach to alcohol and drugs education globally to help people make informed decisions about whether or not they choose to use them.

However, we know there isn’t one simple answer or approach – tackling problem alcohol or drug use is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own; we all have a part to play.’

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