Official figures published show that 3% of people aged 16-59 in households with an annual income of at least £50,000 said they had taken cocaine in the last year, up from 2.2% in the previous 12 months.
Use of other ‘recreational’ drugs by the country’s middle classes has also increased sharply. The proportion who had taken ecstasy was 2.2%, up from 1.5% in the previous year, while for cannabis the figure climbed from 5.6% to 6.1%.
The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics following its Crime Survey of England and Wales, indicate that drug use is common in tens of thousands of homes across the country.
Experts say there has been a cultural shift which ‘has increasingly normalised those substances’, while the findings also indicate wider availability.
Overall, the report showed that around one in 12 adults had taken an illegal drug in the previous year, equating to 2.7 million people. Cannabis is the most commonly-taken drug.
There could be far-reaching consequences of more widespread drug-taking for society in general.
In terms of our operations here, the trend has implications for Britain’s workplaces.
It is interesting to note that there appears to be a reluctance for workplace drug testing among more professional and senior management staff.
On the occasions where we have been asked to do this, the circumstances have arisen because of suspected drug use.
We strongly believe that, were middle-class adults subjected to more rigorous random testing, the results would reflect the pattern described in the ONS report.
Random workplace drug testing through urine samples tends to focus more on shop floor and safety-critical roles.
We’ve seen positive rates for cannabis use as high as 35% in some organisations. The highest we’ve seen for cocaine is 20%.
Having said that, the number of pre-employment tests being requested for professionals is increasing significantly. Most are ordered by recruitment agencies for candidates working around the UK or overseas.