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Home > GDS2020 key findings report: executive summary.

Winstock, Adam (2021) GDS2020 key findings report: executive summary. London: Global Drug Survey.

PDF (GDS2020 key findings report: executive summary)


Global Drug Survey is an independent research organisation based in London, UK we run the largest drug survey in the world this is the 9th annual report.

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Data collection period: GDS2020 ran between Nov 7th– Dec 30th 2019 (before the COVID pandemic) 

Sample characteristics global drug survey 2020 (GDS2020): Data from over 110,000 people from > 25 countries were used in the preparation of this report. 66% were male, 52% were aged under 25 years with 22% of the sample aged 35 years or older. 87% of the sample was white. 38% had at least an undergraduate degree as their highest level of educational attainment. 54% reported going clubbing 4 or more times per year. 

Drug use: global sample: Of the 20 drugs used most commonly in the last 12 months:

  • 8 were psychedelic/dissociative drugs
  • 6 were stimulant drugs
  • 3 were prescription CNS depressants (opioids / benzodiazepines)
  • 2 were tobacco/nicotine-based products
  • 1 was alcohol Excluding alcohol & tobacco/nicotine products, the top 10 drugs used in the last 12 months were:
  • THC-containing cannabis
  • MDMA,
  • CBD-only cannabis products (non-psychoactive)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamine
  • LSD
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Magic mushrooms
  • Ketamine
  • Prescription opioids 

Alcohol: getting drunk why people regretted it

Not surprisingly, a bad hangover was the top consequence of drinking that led people to say they regretted getting drunk, closely followed by ‘saying something you normally would not have said’. Social disinhibition with alcohol is a double-edged sword. With relaxation and less self-monitoring, too much social lubrication can lead people to become more honest, offensive or cruel. Problems are worse when people have no recollection of what was said. What we thought was most the very high rates of people reporting increased anxiety the day after drinking (sometimes known as ‘hangxiety’). Showing marked variations between countries (highest in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, lowest in German-speaking countries), the explanation for increased anxiety is embedded in the effects of alcohol on the brain.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Screening / Assessment
January 2021
11 p.
Global Drug Survey
Place of Publication
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