Drug dependency in adults


Last updated 26 March 2024 - see all updates

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2014, black people aged 16 and over were more likely than other ethnic groups to have had a drug dependency in the year before they were surveyed
  • black men were more likely than men from other ethnic groups to have had a drug dependency
  • any other apparent differences aren’t reliable, most likely because of the small number of people surveyed

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data shows the percentage of people aged 16 and over in England who experienced possible drug dependency in the year before being surveyed.

People were asked about their use of drugs over the past month and over the past year, including their:

  • daily use for 2 weeks or more
  • sense of need or dependence
  • inability to abstain
  • increased tolerance
  • withdrawal symptoms

A positive response to any of the questions was used as an indicator of possible drug dependency.

Percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal point.

Not included in the data

The data does not include:

  • people who live in institutional settings, such as hospitals or prisons
  • people who live in temporary housing, such as hostels or bed and breakfasts
  • homeless people

The ethnic groups used in the data

Data is shown for 5 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • black
  • mixed
  • white
  • other

This means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole. This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups.


Read the detailed methodology document for the data on this page. You can also read more about the drug use and dependence part of the survey.

It is unlikely that everyone who experienced possible drug dependency responded accurately when surveyed, particularly when interviewed in person. People were more likely to respond accurately in the self-completion section of the survey, but not everyone completed that section.

The statistics have been age-standardised so comparisons can be made between ethnic groups as if they had the same age profile (the number of people of different ages within an ethnic group). They do not show the actual percentage of people in each ethnic group who experienced possible drug dependency.

The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:

In the data file

See Download the data for confidence intervals for each ethnic group – you can read more about how we use confidence intervals to determine how reliable estimates are.

3. By ethnicity and sex

Percentage of adults with possible drug dependency by ethnicity and sex
Ethnicity All Men Women
Asian 2.4 4.4 0.1
Black 7.5 11.5 4.5
Mixed other 1.9 2.7 1.1
White British 3.0 4.0 1.9
White other 2.1 2.1 2.1

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sex’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sex’ (CSV)

Summary of Drug dependency in adults By ethnicity and sex Summary

This data shows that:

  • 7.5% of black people reported at least one sign of drug dependency in the past year, compared with 3% of white British people
  • 11.5% of black men reported at least one sign of drug dependency in the past year, compared with 4% of white British men

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


NHS Digital

Publication frequency

Every 7 years (further publications dependent on further surveys being commissioned)

Purpose of data source

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey provides data on the prevalence of treated and untreated psychiatric disorders in English adults aged 16 and over.

5. Download the data

APMS_drug_dependency - Spreadsheet (csv) 6 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, geography, sex, value, drug type, confidence intervals, and sample size