Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to substance use and misuse

Published on: 2nd September 2016 | Updated on: 28th March 2022

This page contains key quotes and figures relating that LPCs may find useful when writing business cases or developing resources to support the commissioning of a substance use and misuse service.

This page is ‘work in progress’ and will continue to be updated with new facts, stats and quotes.

Facts, stats and quotes on other topics can be accessed on the Essential facts, stats and quotes page.

NHS Digital, Hospital admissions for poisoning by illicit drugs up by more than 50 per cent in a decade (July 2016)

Drug misuse related hospital admissions (England)

  • In 2014/15, there were 8,149 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders. This is 14% more than 2013/14 but only 4% higher than 2004/05.
  • There were 14,279 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs. This is 2% more than 2013/14 and 57% more than 2004/05.

Deaths related to drug misuse (England and Wales)

  • In 2014 there were 2,248 deaths which were related to drug misuse. This is an increase of 15% on 2013 and 44% higher than 2004.
  • Deaths related to drug misuse are at their highest level since comparable records began in 1993.

Drug use among adults (England and Wales)

  • In 2015/16, around 1 in 12 (8.4%) adults aged 16 to 59 had taken an illicit drug in the last year. This equates to around 2.7 million people.

Drug use among children (England)

  • In 2014, 15% of pupils had ever taken drugs, 10% had taken drugs in the last year and 6% had taken drugs in the last month.
  • The prevalence of drug use increased with age. For example, 6% of 11 year olds said they had tried drugs at least once, compared with 24% of 15 year olds.

Public Health England, Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) April 2014-March 2015 (December 2015)

  • 295,224 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol services in 2014/15. Of these, 141,646 started treatment during the year – 97% started within three weeks.
  • Men made up 70% of the entire treatment population in 2014/15.
  • Individuals recorded as white British made up the largest ethnic group in treatment, (85%, 245,380) with a further 4% (10,468 people) from other white groups.
  • The majority of younger people (18-24) presenting to treatment in 2014/15 cited problems with either cannabis or cocaine (7,369, 52%, and 3,272, 23%).
  • Drug misuse deaths registered in England and Wales between 2012 and 2014 increased by 42%, with the number now 2,120 per year, the highest since records began in 1993.
  • The number of deaths involving heroin in 2014 increased by 64% from 2012.
  • The drug-related death rate among people in treatment is significantly lower than among those who are not in treatment.

Public Health England, Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) April 2014-March 2015 (December 2015)

  • The most common drug that young people need help with is cannabis.
  • Alcohol is the next biggest problem substance with just over half the young people in treatment (51%) seeking help for its misuse during 2014/15.
  • Just under two-thirds of the young people accessing specialist substance misuse services were male (65%), and just over half (52%) of all persons were aged 16 or over.
  • Girls in treatment were younger, with 25% aged under 15 compared to 19% of boys.
  • The majority of young people in specialist substance misuse services have a range of problems or vulnerabilities related to their substance use (such as poly drug use and drinking alcohol daily) or wider factors that can impact.
  • 5% of young people presenting to treatment services in 2014/15 reported sexual exploitation. This proportion was higher among females (12%) than males (just over 1%).

For more information on this topic please email

Latest LPCs & Local news

View more LPCs & Local newsSee all