COVID-19 and Drug Markets – week three update

The UK has been on lockdown for over three weeks now, with an additional three week extension of the restrictions just announced. Our survey into the way COVID-19 has impacted the way drugs are bought, sold and taken is also now in its third week.

This week we’ve logged responses from Troon, Kirkwall and Banff in Scotland and California, Montreal, Lisbon and Zagreb internationally.

You can find a full summary of the results from week three as a downloadable PDF here: COVID-19 Drug Market Survey Summary – Week 3. Not taken part in the survey yet? Take part now!

This week was an eventful one in the drug culture calendar with the anniversary of LSD being discovered and – the annual day of international cannabis events –  4/20 taking place. We’ve put together a guide to cannabis use during lockdown and one about taking drugs alone.

So what have you told us?

53% of the respondents have noticed a change to the drugs market, whilst 43% reported no change.

The top drugs that people were observing changes to included, cannabis, cocaine, alcohol and opiates like heroin. We have also received reports of DMT and different types of cannabis products being taken like hash and pollen.

Most people (58%) are taking the same drugs that they would usually take, whilst over one quarter (28%) are taking drugs that they normally wouldn’t. We have recurring reports from people who would usually take drugs, such as MDMA and ketamine, in nightlife settings stopping their use and for many others alcohol is the drug of choice. There are also reports of an increased availability of prescription medicines like methadone, gabapentin and pregabalin.

Taking what’s offered if drug of choice unavailable also methadone pick up reduced so some taking drugs on other days

The most common changes that people have reported are shortages of products (48%) and a decrease in quality (31%). Price increases are being reported more commonly (45%) compared to last week’s results (38%). 33% reported that there was less variety of products. People are also being more careful when they do leave the house to pick up drugs – attempting to stay protected from the spread of the virus and from detection by the police.

Increased stock of LSD because people like to take trips now with no obligations

There are also reports of dealers only offering to meet up if the sale is of a minimum value or operating during restricted opening hours.

Dealer is dealing out of window to limit contact

54% of people who filled in the survey are taking drugs more frequently than usual, whilst 12% are taking drugs less frequently. Some respondents reported that they were taking drugs less often to protect their mental health, or that their drug use would depend on how well they felt they were coping with the current situation.

Psychedelics are useful to deal with the situation – more in need of healing hours to meditate

45% are taking a larger amount when they do take drugs. For a third of our survey respondents the amount has stayed the same, and for 13% it has decreased.

I don’t get stupid with it, usually one zoot a day 99% of the time….I don’t want to get high and then come home and deal with family

Last week more than half of the respondents reported worry or feelings of anxiety about the changes to the way drugs are bought and sold in the outbreak of COVID-19. This week, only 34% responded that the changes have caused worry or anxiety.

Cannabis use has gone up significantly to deal with stress

Concerns that are consistent from the previous two weeks of responses are around coercion and control and domestic or intimate partner violence. Again, if you are affected by violence or abuse at home please know that there are services to support you including ones specifically designed for women and non-binary peoplemenLGBT+ people and services for women within ethnic minority groups.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for new posts about harm reduction strategies for alcohol and other drug use 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:

Drug Market Survey – Crew – Summary – Week 2

Drug Market Survey – Crew – Summary – Week 1