How has Covid Impacted the UK Illegal Drug Market?

There have been some minor changes in the supply and taking of drugs in the United Kingdom since the onset of the covid pandemic, but the changes maybe aren’t as signficant as you’d think.

At least not according to a recent survey of UK drug users carried out in late 2020 by release.org.uk

Drug Use Increased slightly during the Pandemic

43% of users reported increasing their use of drugs, while 21% reduced and 36% kept their usage about the same.

The types of drug used also changed – with Cannabis use increasing and MDMA (the party drug) decreasing, mainly because of lack of opportunity to take it, with clubs being closed.

Drugs were slightly more difficult to find during the Pandemic

Around a third of drug users reported drugs being more difficult to get hold of a seller and having to source a different seller than usual, but overall only 25% reported it as being more difficult to find the drug they wanted, and only around 5% couldn’t find what they wanted or had to buy an alternative….

Unsurprisingly it became gradually more difficult to source drugs as the lockdown came into force and then eased.

Use of the ‘Darknet’ became slightly more popular

Use of the darknet increased by 13% and a full 30% of users would now consider using the darknet (buying drugs online) to purchase if the need to.

Drug dealers practiced social distancing

And many others took further precautions, well they are business people!

Relevance to A-level sociology/ analysis

Overall I’d say that this research shows us just how resilient the illegal drugs market has been during the pandemic.

Despite the UK borders being much more tightly controlled and huge restrictions on the movement of people with national lockdowns the drug supplies were largely unaffected, for the most part managing to keep up with the increased demand from nearly half of the UK drug taking population.

It’s also a nice reminder that UK drug suppliers are running a business, and they clearly take that business very seriously, showing the ability to adapt under extremely adverse conditions.

And they may be trading in illegal goods, but quite a few of them seemed to stick with the government suggested guidelines to stop the spread of the pandemic. I guess that was in their self-interest, it wouldn’t be good for business to infect your customers I guess!

This should be a useful update to both postmodern and global crimes as part of the Crime and Deviance module for A -level sociology,

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