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Are drug users a dying breed?

NB. I will focus this post on drug use by 16-24 year olds. Drug use among 16-59 year olds is declining but much more slowly.

The UK government released the latest British Crime Survey results for England and Wales today and with it comes a wealth of information about drug use. The data is collected from about 10,000 random participants and includes information about drug use in the last year and across one’s lifetime.

In keeping with the previous ten years there is a continuing downward trend of drug use in the last year which is actually pretty significant. For example, “ecstasy” use by people aged 16-24 has declined 50% in the last ten years, from 6% of the population in 2003 to less than 3% of people having used it in 2013.

Ecstasy use among adults aged 16-24 in the last year

Ecstasy use among adults aged 16-24 in the last year

Given that this is a properly conducted survey it’s hard to argue with a ten year trend, but what is going on here? Can it be that drugs are going out of fashion? Is the drug war working? Are young people more concerned about their health than they used to be?

All entirely possible, but what if the results are actually indicative of a flawed survey? Though technically correct, what if the survey is actually failing to really find out about drug use?

It’s no secret that the governement is woefully unable to respond to changes in the drug market and the BCS is no different. This year’s survey includes two “novel” substances but salvia and nitrous are far from novel. In fact they are two of the oldest legal highs available and measuring their use tells us almost nothing about real NPS use.

So could NPS use be accountable for the steady downward trend? Clearly the reports of ever increasing NPS numbers shows that they are snowballing popularity but the BCS makes no mention of anything other than mephedrone, which was banned in 2010.

To me it still looks like a no for three reasons:

  1. The decline has been steady over the last ten years but the NPS industry has absolutely boomed since 2009. The emergence and subsequent scheduling of mephedrone does not appear to have even made a dent in the stimulant statistics, with amphetamine and cocaine use actually increasing in 2009/10.
  2. Data from the global drug survey suggests that Mephedrone use has been steadily declining since its ban too, though it does appear that availability has dropped.
  3. It’s not just stimulant and cannabinoid use that’s falling – despite a relatively small number of novel opioids on the market heroin use has dropped by a solid 80%, though reported opiate use has admittedly fluctuated seemingly due to methadone use.

This doesn’t excuse the government from making a half-arsed attempt at collecting good data but it is fascinating to see that drug use really does seem to be on a steady downward trend. Perhaps it really is just going out of fashion. There is certainly no obvious nationwide trend I’ve noticed over the entirety of the last 10 years, and with the increasing popularity of festivals I would certainly be expecting the opposite trend. If you have any suggestions at all, please leave a comment.

What will this mean for drug users though? Will enforcement budgets be decreased accordingly? Or will there be a final push to try and eradicate drug use once and for all?

References

Drug Misuse: Findings from the 2012 to 2013 Crime Survey for England and Wales

Mixmag Global Drug Survey 2010 2011 2012

DOC

Introduction:

2,5-Dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine (DOC) is long-lived, potent psychedelic which was discovered by Alexander Shulgin in the late 20th century. It has enjoyed a constant but low level of popularity although its high potency (3 mg dose) has meant it can generally only be handled in blotter form and as a result is sometimes dangerously misrepresented as LSD. As a psychedelic amphetamine it is regarded to be a stimulating psychedelic and is alleged to have an easygoing headspace and moderate visuals.

DOC structure

1-(4-chloro-2,5-dimethoxy-phenyl)propan-2-amine

Although it has been around for a long time, there are few reports of any other ROA than oral, which surprised me given the marathon duration. I suspected that a shorter ROA would make the comeup shorter than the normal 2 hours and might make the total duration more manageable too. There were absolutely no reports of this but considering that vaporising the 2C-x series is very effective, I saw no reason it would not work for the closely related DOx series.

Dose: 1-5mg oral, 0.8-2.4 mg vaporised

Duration: 12-24 hours oral, 10-14 hours vaporised.

Description: A potent stimulating psychedelic with a very long comeup and long overall duration.

Summary

I spent the trip split between cycling and relaxing at home. I had plenty of energy for cycling and good focus without distractions, but never felt pushily energetic while relaxing. Music was certainly enhanced and the synaesthetic CEVs that came with it were wonderful. The trip was not very visual and very easy to handle so I suspect the dose could easily be pushed a little, although it certainly broke a mild +++ at the peak. I can see why it is popular as a party drug and if the duration was shorter I think it would enjoy much more popularity.

Vaporising provided a near-instant comeup, bypassed the stomach, gave excellent intensity control and did not burn. If the dose was well measured I would have every confidence vaporising over 20 minutes max ang gauging the intensity as I vaped to find a comfortable level, with the measured dosage providing a safety net. Unlike with vaporised 2C-xs the plateau was very nice and long which did not leave me with a desire to repeatedly redose. 2C-B has a 20 minute plateau vaped which makes it of little enjoyment as an ROA.

Report

I weighed out 1.2 mg of  DOC and placed it into my bulb vape, heating using a small candle. It quickly melted and began to vaporise without burning. The vapour was easy to inhale, even in “large” hits and the first alerts were present within a couple of minutes. I take a couple of good hits and the second comes with a psychedelic “rush” which takes me off-guard. I instantly wonder if I have overdone it and the nausea which I was suffering before plays on my mind.

I lie down and as the nausea subsides I notice I have slight tracers and music sounds good. I am trembling a little which does not surprise me. After a shower the physical sensations subside a little and I feel comfortable that I am not far above a ++ and would like some more. I finish the contents of the vape without any rushes this time. There is some jaw clenching and the visuals are a bit more distinct. Although the nausea does not return I feel physically uncomfortable again and lie down.

As I do so and close my eyes I begin to have synaesthetic visuals which flow perfectly with the music. They are beautiful but sadly not that intense. The visuals throughout the trip are pretty mild but can be brought out with focus. The time dilation is very significant but I am quite able to deal with it.

After about 45 minutes the uncomfortable sensations are gone and although not hungry I eat a banana. I then decide I’d like to go for a cycle so after a little deliberation about having to encounter other people I kit up and go. As I come to cross the main road I wait for what feels like quite a while. I notice the cars have minor tracers, making them appear like tron light-cycles and chuckle to myself. I feel quite able to cycle as soon as I get going and thoroughly enjoy meandering around a mix of mildly busy roads and totally empty country ones. When I stop of my own accord in country roads I feel incredibly peaceful but I really dislike stopping at traffic lights.

A friend comes round and we play call of duty for a while. I’m not as good as normal but still put up a good fight. After he leaves I have a balloon of nirtous. It is enjoyable as ever but I do not remember much of it and it just leaves me wanting more as always. I force a toasted sandwich which is actually pretty nice and I eat the other half about half an hour later. I appear to have come down considerably as I feel like I could much better handle speaking to others now.

I do another balloon and find the same results as before. I decide they would be better sipped slowly and find I am right as the balloon brings back a bit of intensity without being very shortlived.

I spend the rest of the evening chatting online and browsing the internet. 12 hours after the second dose I can still feel something but it’s not clear what. I certainly feel like I have come down almost completely. This feeling persists for 3 hours until I decide I have to try to sleep. I lie in bed and find myself falling asleep very quickly, even though there is music on and I have no sleep aids. I switch the music off and fall asleep near instantly. I awake the next morning after 9 hours and feel absolutely fine.

Overall a lovely experience which could have been easily enjoyed at a higher intensity. I felt about the same from t+12h onwards so probably could have slept from then. I never felt excessively stimulated but I imagine my body was well exercised from a 20 km cycle.