Middle-classes consume more drugs and alcohol than the poor

But deprived people smoke more and experience worse physical and mental health, report finds


The middle-classes in Britain take more illegal drugs and drink more alcohol than the poor, according to a report published this week.

Two-thirds of those who are better off have drunk to excess in the past year compared with just 58% of the poor, the study by the Social Metrics Commission found.

It also reports 22% of the middle-class had taken illegal drugs, 9% more than less well-off people.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

However, the most deprived people smoked more, suffered from a higher incidence of disability, and experienced worse mental and physical health, researchers concluded.

The report from the independent charity also found 14.2 million people are now judged to be in poverty, a similar number to 2015, The Guardian says.

The results tally with the annual survey by the Office for National Statistics published in May, which found that alcohol intake increased steadily with income.

Around seven in 10 people working in managerial and professional jobs, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, said they had drunk alcohol in the week leading up to the poll, compared with only five in 10 people with jobs such as labourers, lorry drivers and receptionists.

Earlier this year, Simon Kempton, who leads on drug policy for the Police Federation, blamed middle-class drug users for the drug trade and related violence.

“The only reason gangs are into drugs is because people want to buy them, and a big part of that is not street-level users,” he told the federation conference in Birmingham in May.

“The big market is people with money to spend and they are often oblivious to the misery they cause because it is not on their doorstep,” Kempton added. “Middle-class drug users do not come across the radar of police because they are consuming it behind closed doors.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.