26 June 2015
The results of a survey covering drug-taking in Jersey have been announced.
Commissioned by Health and Social Services Department as part of the Building a Safer Society (BASS) strategy, the review was carried out by the Glasgow-based Centre for Drugs Misuse Research (CDMR) in order to provide insights which will help shape the way drug use is tackled in Jersey.
Michael Gafoor, Director of the Island’s Alcohol & Drugs Service, said the review was the first of its kind since research by Imperial College in 2001 and reflected the changing landscape in illicit drug use in Jersey.
Some of the findings confirmed existing issues such as the misuse of both over-the-counter medication and prescribed drugs. The review also identified the increasing impact of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), still misleadingly referred to by some as ‘legal highs’, as well as underlining concerns about the continuing use of cannabis, cocaine, and heroin on the Island. The review has shown that the prevalence of problem drug use on Jersey has remained largely constant since 2001.
A total of 395 people completed an online survey, of whom 129 had taken NPS.
There were an estimated 892 problem drug users in Jersey during 2013-2014 (compared to 780 in the 2001 research). This represents approximately 1.4% of Jersey’s population aged 15 to 64, compared to estimates for England and Scotland of 0.85% and 1.6% respectively.
Earliest first consumption of NPS was aged 12, latest was 57
Most common age of first consumption of NPS was 16 years. Approximately one-quarter (27%) of ‘ever-takers’ consumed their first NPS by age 16; 43%, 50% and 57% of ever-takers had consumed their first NPS before the ages of 18, 19 and 20, respectively
“The patterns and trends of drug use in Jersey have changed have changed dramatically over the last decade, particularly since NPS first emerged in 2007,” said Mr Gafoor. “The intention was to obtain up-to-date analysis on what drugs are being used, and why, as well as the problems users are experiencing in order to develop an effective, evidence-based drug strategy for the Island.”
Professor Neil McKeganey, Director of the CDMR, said: “The States of Jersey is committed to ensuring that the response to drugs misuse on the island is based on the best available evidence. The review, which my colleagues and I have undertaken, found much that is positive in how Jersey is tackling drugs misuse but also identified clear gaps in provision which services working in close conjunction with each other, will seek to address.”