More than one in four drug users who took part in a survey admitted to taking eight or more different kinds of substances in the last year.
Results from the research carried out in Scotland show cannabis continues to be the most popular drug, but it is now closely followed by cocaine – previously known as a ‘rich man’s drug’.
Substance abuse charity Addaction surveyed 8,500 drug users in Scotland, mostly aged 18 to 45, who said they had taken drugs in the previous 12 months.
The research was based on online responses from people targeted by social media adverts.
Almost four in five of those surveyed said they had taken cannabis, narrowly ahead of cocaine.
That figure is far higher than the recent Scottish Crime and Justice Survey which found 30% of drug users from a smaller sample had used cocaine in the past year.
The continued popularity of ecstasy was shown by almost half admitting taking MDMA or the similar MMA, while 29% said they used prescription drugs and 23% reported using ketamine.
Very few of those surveyed stuck to one drug, and nearly three-quarters said they took more than one over the course of the year.
This was particularly common among users of heroin, methadone, Xanax and inhalants, where one in four admitted using eight or more substances.
Those using cocaine and cannabis, the most popular drugs, sampled fewer alternatives, with around half taking between two and four other drugs.
To identify problematic use, the survey asked respondents to take the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST), a series of questions used to find out if they needed outside help.
Nearly half were found to have three to five of the test’s indicators, suggesting they had minor substance issues.
But more than a quarter had six or more, meaning they had a serious dependence requiring more detailed assessment.
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