Illegal drug taking largely occurs in adolescents and young adults; up to 50 per cent of teenagers experiment with illegal drugs, but most have stopped using by their 20s. The most commonly used drug is cannabis. There was apparently a rise in prevalence of illicit drug use in the early 1990s, in association with the emergence of dance culture. The rise has persisted.

Although older people occasionally continue with illegal drugs, even up to their 50s or 60s, a much greater problem in middle and old age is the misuse of alcohol and of prescribed medication.

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