COVID-19 and drug markets – week four update

As lockdown continues for many, and moves into week four in the UK, we have completed the week four summary of our drug markets and COVID-19 survey.

This week we have logged responses from Kirkwall in the Scottish island of Orkney, Swansea in Wales and Bogotá in Columbia.

You can find a full summary of the results from week four as a downloadable PDF here: COVID-19 Drug Market Survey Summary – Week 4. Not taken part in the survey yet? Take part now!

So what have you told us?

This week, 69% of the respondents noticed a change in the supply of drugs since the outbreak of COVID-19. The main drugs people noticed being affected were cannabis, cocaine and alcohol. Heroin and crack cocaine supplies were also reported to be impacted by the global outbreak.

The majority (62%) of our survey respondents are taking the same drugs that they would usually take. Just over a third of the people who completed the survey (35%) this week report that they are taking different drugs than they usually would.

On weekends I would often normally take stimulants, ketamine etc. with my girlfriend and/or friends. But not so much now I’m by myself.

For some people, the choice of drugs is based on availability, affordability or changes to their social life. People are choosing to take different drugs now that they aren’t in a club or party environment or aren’t around their wider social group.

Some respondents are avoiding stimulant type drugs as they don’t want to “lower their immune system” at this time. For others, the choice is based on their current mindset. Nice to see people are paying attention to the concept of “set and setting”.

Still only using weed. I’ve been tempted to drink a few times but know it doesn’t help me.

 

The main changes people have reported seeing in the last week are still, consistently, shortages of products (62%), price increases (41%), less variety of products being available (38%) and it taking longer to get products (24%).

According to the respondents of our survey, some markets are less affected than others but in general prices are increasing and there are fewer opportunities for face to face sales, resulting in online sales growing.

Can’t get ketamine and when you manage, it’s poor quality. Pills have changed to only the Tesla logos.

The frequency of drug taking and the amount of drugs being taken are still reported to be affected by the majority of people responding to the survey. 44% of people are taking drugs more often; with some reporting that they are smoking cannabis every day, or increasing the frequency of their daily smoking. For some people this is due to boredom and for others it is to relieve stress.

Just under a quarter of people (24%) responded that they are taking drugs less often. Some of the reasons for this include concerns about the health of their lungs and not being able to afford to buy drugs. Some people aren’t around other people who take drugs so don’t feel able to.

For a third of people (31%), the frequency that they take drugs has stayed the same. Similarly, a third of people (31%) report that the quantity of drugs that they take has stayed the same. 27% report that they are taking a smaller amount, whereas 38% report that they are taking a larger amount.

Some people are taking more just because they can, because they are bored or because they believe that it helps them to manage stress related to the pandemic.

Decided to quit. I can’t use with others so it doesn’t make sense no more.

Many people are taking less because they have less money at the moment and can’t afford to buy drugs. This is resulting in people rationing the drugs they have. Others are withdrawing due to a lack of access to drugs.

This week respondents reported less worry or anxiety about the impact of COVID-19 on the drugs market, with only 25% answering yes to this question. Worries about the supply of drugs might have reduced but there are ongoing impacts to people’s access to prescriptions, with 44% reporting issues.

Had pregabalin withdrawal due to GPs being under more pressure and taking longer to process prescriptions.

There are also issues for people who are trying to access support for their drug use, with 42% of people reporting some difficulty with this. People have reported scaled back services, not being able to see anyone and no financial help.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for new posts about harm reduction strategies for alcohol and other drugs during this period of lockdown and social distancing. If you are affected by any of the topics presented above please have a look at our COVID-19 harm reduction information and our updated page on services and support.

Not taken the survey yet? Take part now!

You can find our summary of the results from previous weeks on our website here:

COVID-19 Drug Market Survey – Crew – Summary – Week 1

COVID-19 Drug Market Survey – Crew – Summary – Week 2

COVID-19 Drug Market Survey – Crew – Summary – Week 3