A record number of people took Class A drugs in the last year amid a rise in the use of cocaine and ecstasy, according to official figures.
The Home Office figures said 3.7% of 16 to 59-year-olds reported taking such drugs in 2018/19, which is up from 3.5% the year before and the highest rate since records began in 1996.
This equates to around 1.3 million people, according to the data based on findings from the Crime Survey of England and Wales.
There is an “upward trend apparent in the use of Class A drugs, particularly among 16 to 24-year-olds”, the findings said, adding: “This is mainly driven by an increase in powder cocaine and ecstasy use.”
Overall drug use also increased slightly.
Roughly one in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 had taken an illicit substance in the last year.
This proportion (9.4%) equates to around 3.2 million people, up from 9% recorded in the department’s 2017/18 research.
There has been an upward trend in drug-taking since 2015/16 when the figure was 8.3%. Although this is still lower than the 11.2% measured in 1996 when records began.
The data also found the number of people taking drugs in their late 20s rose by almost 3% in the last year amid a rise in the use of cannabis, amphetamines and cocaine.
The survey said the use of drugs between 25 to 29-year-olds increased from 13.5% in 2017/18 to 16.4% in 2018/19.
This change was “mainly driven by an increase in last year use of cannabis, amphetamines, and powder cocaine,” the Home Office said.