Home > How has COVID-19 changed the use of illegal drugs? An overview of the results so far.

Skumlien, Martine and Lawn, Will (2020) How has COVID-19 changed the use of illegal drugs? An overview of the results so far. London: Society for the Study of Addiction.

External website: https://www.addiction-ssa.org/how-has-covid-19-cha...

Since we published our original article in May 2020 1, several large-scale studies have started to shed light on COVID-19’s impact on drug use across the world. Crudely, use of ‘party drugs’, including MDMA, cocaine, amphetamine and ketamine, has fallen during COVID-19, whereas use of cannabis, a drug commonly consumed in the home, has increased.

Changes in drug use

COVID-19 has changed both the types of drugs that people use, and the frequency with which they are used. Overall, use of cannabis and, to a lesser extent, benzodiazepines have increased during lockdown2,3.

In the Global Drug Survey (GDS), 39% of respondents stated that they had used cannabis more frequently since the onset of the pandemic, with 22% reporting decreased use. In the UK, both of these numbers were slightly higher, with 44% reporting increased cannabis use, and 24% reporting decreased use. Findings from the European Web Survey on Drugs (by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction) and our own C-CABANA study (to be presented at the 2020 SSA conference) also suggest that cannabis use has increased among adults and adolescents, but mainly for those who were regular users before the pandemic. Additionally, across the globe, people reported using benzodiazepines more frequently (37%) than less frequently (15%)......


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco), Cannabis, CNS depressants / Sedatives, CNS stimulants, Cocaine, Inhalents and solvents, Opioid, New psychoactive substance
Intervention Type
Treatment method, Harm reduction, Screening / Assessment
28 September 2020
Society for the Study of Addiction
Place of Publication
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