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Global Drug Survey - Special Edition on COVID-19
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This entry has been published on June 9, 2020 and may be out of date.

Got a spare 15 minutes? The Global Drug Survey wants to know about your drug and alcohol use during COVID-19.

The Global Drug Survey (GDS) runs the world’s biggest annual drug survey. Consistent with their mantra of having “honest conversations about alcohol and other drugs”, the GDS asks people around the world about their recreational drug habits through a confidential online survey.

The GDS’s special edition on Covid-19 was developed as part of a global effort to better understand the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives, particularly their use of alcohol and other drugs, as well as their relationships and mental health.

Their newest survey launched on May 4th, 2020, and will finish on June 20th, 2020. If you have a spare 15-25 minutes, you can take part in the survey here. How has the pandemic and lockdown affected your drug and alcohol use? Are you drinking earlier in the day? Are your preferred drugs harder to come by? The GDS wants to know! Everyone is eligible to take part in the survey and it’s totally anonymous.

The first results from the GDS special edition on COVID-19 have recently been released in their interim findings. Here are some of the first findings that have been gleaned from the survey based on a sample of >40,000 participants. A full report of the findings will be published in early July.

Globally, over 30% of participants reported that they had started drinking earlier in the day since February 2020 (before COVID-19 restrictions were implemented), while 44% reported that their frequency of drinking had increased at least a little. The main reasons given for increased drinking were that they had ‘more time to drink’ and because they felt ‘bored’, and the greatest increases were found in the UK and Ireland. Overall, 42% of participants said they would like to drink less in the next 30 days. For information on how to cut down on drinking, you can visit the GDS’s free, anonymous Drinks Meter app.

Participants were also asked about their use of drugs other than alcohol. The interim findings suggest an increase in the use of drugs that people commonly use on their own, like cannabis. However, the pandemic seems to have caused a reduction in the use of drugs that are mainly used with other people in the context of social gatherings (so-called ‘party drugs’), like cocaine and MDMA.

Given that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the ability of illicit drug cartels and dealing networks to import and distribute their products, reductions in drug availability were always to be expected. While this has been seen in some regions, the reduction in availability has been met with a reduction in demand in others. Overall, drug markets seem to have been pretty robust to the effects of the pandemic and the GDS predicts that many regions will see an influx of high purity drugs following the lockdown.

Remember, it’s still not too late to take part! The survey and full interim findings are available here. Also, if you want to know how you can stay safe and help keep others safe throughout the pandemic with regards to drug use, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has produced a comprehensive list of information and guidance resources.