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25% of UK Drug Users Use Darknet Markets

The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is a London-based drug and alcohol research group that releases, once a year, the results of the world’s largest survey on drug use. The survey covers, for example, trends in drug popularity within a specific country. One point of interest from the Global Drug Survey 2016 showed that global darknet market usage increased significantly—and it did this year as well. However, this year, some countries showed vastly different changes than others.

One such example of this was the increase of darknet users in the UK. The GDS 2016 revealed that 18.3 percent of UK respondents used the darknet for obtaining various substances. That number, according to the GDS 2017, jumped from 18.3 percent to 25.3 percent within a year. And, since 2014, the number of drug users that purchased substances from darknet marketplaces (DNMs) more than doubled.

One out of every four drug users in the UK purchased from a darknet market in 2017. This placed the UK behind Finland and Norway in the list of locations with the highest percentage​ of DNM users in the survey. Finland and Norway came in at 41 percent and 27.1 percent, respectively​.

Matching commonly reported trends, GDS 2017 found that drug users purchased MDMA from darknet marketplaces more frequently than any other drug. “Well over half (58 percent) of English drug users who had used the darknet for purchases had bought MDMA, while 45 per cent bought cannabis,” Ben Kentish wrote.

Even though the world saw an increase in emergency room admissions, the UK managed a decrease. The A&E admission rate fell from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent in just 12 months. GDS theorized that UK users learned safe practices when ingesting MDMA. “Indeed, 60% of MDMA users reported taking a test dose from new batches of pills in line with the ‘don’t be daft, start with a half’ message of last year’s report,” the group wrote.

Dr Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, wrote:

Although quality varies, drugs on the darknet tend to be of a more consistent quality. As our data shows, however, better quality drugs are not always safer for people. There is always the risk that some users who find themselves with easier access to better drugs may be more likely to develop dependence. Ultimately the darknet as a source will only grow. It challenges drug law enforcement and we should not explore how to harness the darknet as a portal for promoting safer drug use as a way of offsetting potential harms.”

And to put the UK’s darknet market usage into perspective, the United States only clocked in at 13 percent and Germany only at six.

For data on more drugs, other countries, and safety profiles, visit the GDS website and check out the full report or key findings. This only scratches the surface.

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