The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is the world’s largest drug survey, surveying people from across the globe about their drug use in an annual anonymous survey. Launched in 2012, the survey has become the go-to for unbiased informative data relating to aspects of drug use within various countries and demographics. Each year the resulting data shines more light upon the realities of drug use, unapologetically displaying just how wrong common understandings of drugs really are. The 2021 GDS included data of 32,022 people from 22 countries and surveyed each about their drug use over the previous year (2020). Considering the report is 27 pages long, we’ve compiled some of the more interesting aspects just for you.

Over 66% of respondents are college and university graduates.

Gone are the days where we can blindly accuse the uneducated of being the main drug-users. Over two-thirds of drug users happen to be highly educated.

Over 90% of respondents were working, studying, or retired.

Drug users have long been the subjects of prejudiced beliefs. They’re viewed as lazy, hedonistic, impulsive, unreliable, and unable to hold a job. These figures show that belief to be simply untrue. A large majority of people who use drugs are employed, whilst those who are unemployed are mostly students, retirees, parents, and carers.

Cannabis is more popular than Tobacco

Despite most regions of the world still clinging to their draconian cannabis prohibition laws, cannabis is more common than tobacco with 57.4% consuming THC strains, and 28.9% consuming CBD in 2020, versus 51% who had consumed tobacco. It is however important to remember that tobacco consumption has decreased since the arrival of E-cigarettes, and the survey did not produce a figure for general nicotine consumption.

Drug use was lower than in 2019

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps because of it, use across all substances decreased from 2019 to 2020, with the most significant decreases found in consumption of tobacco and MDMA.

The French drank most often, but the Aussies drank the Most.

France topped the list with the highest average number of days in the year to have consumed alcohol (132 days), yet whilst Australians drank on significantly less days (106), when they did drink alcohol, it was more likely to excess. Australians topped the list of times drunk with an average Australian getting drunk 27 times (or about every 2 weeks) in 2020, compared with the global average of about once a month.

Some countries show much higher rates of drunkenness in trans, non-binary, and intersex individuals.

Take what you may from this, but we noticed a troubling trend in Australia, Denmark, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico. Times drunk between cis and trans/enby/intersex people varied drastically in these countries, often double that of their cis counterparts. In the case of Brazil, the rate was 3 times greater than cis individuals. This is a trend we suspect could tell a regretful story about how the LGBTQIA+ community are treated in these countries, something we didn’t expect to find whilst studying a drug survey.

You can read the full 2021 Global Drug Survey report here, or check out the executive summary.

The Global Drug Survey has now launched their 2022 survey and is collecting responses from people, including those who only drink alcohol or don’t consume any drugs or alcohol. The survey is live until early 2022. You can add your information here and the data will be used to inform drug policy debate and create new harm reduction techniques.