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Reasons for the Dramatic Rise In Cocaine Drug Addiction in Great Britain over the Past Fifteen Years

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Drug use is one of the most important problems in modern society.

According to Breakdown Britain 2006, 'Britain is experiencing an explosion in addiction' (Duncan Smith 2006: 40). Based on statistics, one and three quarters million young people in Britain use cocaine. Over the past seven years, their number has increased twice.

Over the past 5 years, the cost of heroin has dropped by 45%, the cost of cocaine has fallen by 22%. Thus, Cocaine and heroin are cheaper than 25 years ago. Nowadays drugs and medicines containing drug components have become cheaper and more accessible than ever before.

According to source Breakdown Britain 2006, 'Young adults are engaging a new culture of intoxication' (Duncan Smith 2006: 41). Over the past 5 years deaths from cocaine addiction increased by 300%. As in recent years, cocaine remains the second most popular drug for the last 2018 - 2019 year among adults aged 16 to 59 years.

According to the 2018/19 CSEW, from 2016 to 2019, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of adults aged 16-59 who use cocaine. Between 2016 and 2019, there has been only an increase in the rates of cocaine use without any declining trends.

The growth in the consumption of various drugs affects the social disadvantage in society and associated with certain social groups. The reasons for the surge in drug use and abuse are complex and multifaceted. There are many classifications of reasons affecting drug addiction among the population.

Breakdown Britain's experts identify the following reasons for the rise in drug addiction (Duncan Smith 2006):

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  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Economic

Psychological reasons

The psychological reasons for the development of drug addiction initially lie in the psychological climate within the family. It depends on the 'weather in the house' whether in the future the child will become a drug addict or not. Among the main psychological reasons, researchers at Breakdown Britain 2006 single out abuse, poor parenting, trauma rooted in childhood, lack of supervision and parental alcoholism. “Broken homes and unhappy childhoods - have been amongst the foremost psychological reasons. Very often children are subjected to repeating the chaotic and unpredictable behavior of their parents” (Duncan Smith 2006: 45).

Sexual or physical violence, which in the future without proper psychological help will necessarily lead to constant anxiety, stress, depression and apathy. Even a lack of attention from the parents can cause the manifestation of the same symptoms that the teenager will later try to overcome with the help of drug substances. Here are several other possible reasons that lead to psychological discomfort for both children and adults: excessive custody of the child; violence in family; dissatisfaction with life; internal conflicts; lack of interests, hobbies; loneliness; low self-esteem and even boredom.

Social reasons

A person's use of drugs is directly related to his environment and loved one's people next to him. For example, getting a teenager or young man into a bad a company where drugs are an integral part of a philosophy of life, lead to the fact that a teenager with an unprotected psyche begins to use drugs substances so as not to stand out from the general background. To the same group reasons include the emergence of a new culture of drug use. Appearances the glamorous lifestyle of celebrities on TV screens associated with drugs, increasing social acceptability of a 'culture of intoxication as well and the growth of recreational club drug use, have played their part' (Duncan Smith 2006: 45). Also, the emergence of modern youth music, for example, violent and an aggressive rap industry that translates drug use into lyrics modern songs. According to Breakdown Britain 2006, “the most at risk are: young, predominantly single, under-educated and unemployed boys and young men” (Duncan Smith 2006: 44).

Being in care experience – is also one of the reasons. “Children in care are also dramatically more likely to use and abuse drugs and alcohol than the rest of their age cohort. One study showed 73%, of children in care reported smoked cannabis, 34% reporting smoking it daily, 10% admitting using cocaine and 15% had used ecstasy within the last month. 10% had also used heroin and crack cocaine” (Duncan Smith 2006: 44).

Economic reasons

The main economic reason for the increased growth in drug use is the annual decline in the cost of drugs. As mentioned earlier, over the past 5 years, the cost of cocaine has dropped by 22%. Thus, Cocaine and heroin are cheaper than 25 years ago. Nowadays drugs are cheaper and more affordable than ever before. In this connection, a larger percentage of people today can allow themselves to buy drugs, which immediately leads to an increase in drug use in our society. Most drug users also abuse alcohol. “Alcohol-related death and disease have doubled in 25 years - mostly linked to chronic liver disease, now diagnosed in ever younger people. Cirrhosis of the liver increased by 350% between 1970-98 alone” (Duncan Smith 2006: 42).

Unemployment among the population is also a very strong factor affecting drug addiction in society. Breakdown Britain 2006 researchers cite the following chain of events as an example: Substance abuse by adolescents and young people can cause absenteeism, absenteeism causes academic failure, academic failure causes unemployment, and unemployment is a very high-risk factor for increased substance abuse (Duncan Smith 2006).

Thus, we examined and identified the main reasons for the increase in drug use and drug dependence. The results of the analysis of the main reasons for the development of drug addiction showed that the situation regarding the risk of young people becoming addicted to drugs is constantly changing and since 2016 the number of people using drugs, in particular cocaine, has been steadily increasing. This situation requires constant monitoring in terms of determining the leading factors in the spread of drug addiction among the young population of the UK and solving the corresponding problem based on key factors.

Reference list

  1. Duncan Smith, I. (2006). Breakdown Britain. Social Justice Policy Group.
  2. Home Office. (2019). Drug misuse: Findings from the 2018/19 Crime Survey for England and Wales.
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Reasons for the Dramatic Rise In Cocaine Drug Addiction in Great Britain over the Past Fifteen Years. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Reasons for the Dramatic Rise In Cocaine Drug Addiction in Great Britain over the Past Fifteen Years.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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