Foreigners Reveal What Shocked Them Most About British Drug Use

"None of my friends can believe that ket is a thing that people do for fun."
cocaine just say no

British drug culture is unparalleled, and not in a good way.

From the lay-by resin smokers and squat party ket-queens through to the day-festival pinger posse, dark-web psychonauts and everyone who regularly gets up close and personal with a toilet cistern after three pints on a Thursday night, people in the UK take more drugs than anyone else anywhere else in the world.

I spoke to some people not from the UK about their first impressions of British drug use when they moved over here.


Milo, 21, South Africa

british drug use

"I think what shocked me the most about drug culture in the UK was how accessible it was and how everyone was on it / had done it before. When I came to the UK in 2017 from South Africa, I worked at a pub, and pretty much everyone at the pub was on coke on all of their shifts. In South Africa, people occasionally did coke, but they weren't really considered 'normal people' – they were sort of branded as druggies – so when I started at the pub, it was quite odd.

"I'd also never, ever heard of ketamine before I came to the UK. When I first arrived I was like, 'What the fuck is this?' but now it's sort of shown as the 'easy' option – like, on a night out if you do ket, you don't have a hangover the next day. Plus, if it's a big night out, it's cheaper to get other drugs than alcohol. Also, what's so funny is that it's so easy to get drugs here – like, it's easier for a 15-year-old to buy a pill than a beer."

Romane, 20, Spain

british drug use

"The mafia are quite prominent where I used to live in Marbella, and there was a huge drug culture there, so moving to London didn't really shock me that much. For example, in Marbella we have a clown that goes around selling roses, and if you ask for a 'white rose' he gives you cocaine. The only thing that did really surprise me about the UK was the ketamine use. I'd never really come across that in Spain."

Anne, 20, Germany

british drug use

"I was quite shocked about how it's such a common thing to take any kind of drug in Britain. I didn't really know about most of them before, but apparently it's a casual thing to take artificial drugs such as ecstasy on a weekday. Also, it's super easy to get weed anywhere, so it almost seems like it's legal over here. I realised that people take drugs not only at big festivals, but also on casual nights in or when going clubbing. I also think it's surprising how many students spend quite a lot of money on drugs monthly, even though they struggle with money issues anyway."


Toby, 22, Greece


Toby (right)

"Drugs. Crazy man. People do cocaine on a Wednesday night and they act like it's no big deal. It's apparently casual to do ket while walking around on a chill night, but it's also like a thing to go out to concerts and events completely fucked up. I've learnt a lot about drugs I've never heard of before. Also, weed is absolutely everywhere. You would assume it's legal by the amount of people that smoke on the daily, and it's apparently really easy to acquire.

"Interestingly enough, though, nobody pressures you to do anything you don't want to. At, least in my experience, if you want to stay sober when your friends or peers get high, nobody judges you. It is weird being the only sober person in the group, though, so maybe if the plan's to do drugs and you don't want to, you should probably just stay home."

Poppy, 19, Barbados

british drug use

"Growing up in Barbados, it was never difficult to get your hands on weed, considering almost everyone there smokes it. For example, instead of having fag breaks, our gardener would stop for a joint instead, and that's considered a cultural normality out there, whereas it’s not nearly as normalised in the UK.

"You also never seem to be looking that hard for drugs like weed in Barbados, because most people have it on them, unlike in England where it seems to be quite a hassle getting a dealer's number, followed by waiting for what feels like hours to pick up, and then having to worry about where to go and smoke it."


Jessica, 24, Canada

british drug use

"Cigarettes. In Canada, the attitude towards weed is similar towards our social smoking views – very, very few of my Canadian friends and family smoke cigarettes, but all of them – including the parents – smoke weed. It's shocking to Canadians how much smoking cigarettes is still an integral part of my experience of the British social culture… but, I mean, other than that they all bang coke etc, so that's not really all that different.

"Also, KET! No one does ketamine in Canada that I know of – it is just 100 percent not a thing. Horse and rhino tranquillisers are just a stupid thing to put into your body, and, like, all of my cousins genuinely do not believe that ket is a thing that people do for fun."

Nicola, 23, Serbia

british drug use

"I think what surprised me the most was how open and popular it was in the UK. Going out in Serbia, I found it was more secretive and, in a way, separate, because people who did do drugs would go to other kinds of clubs or events and didn’t really mix. In Serbia, you'd only know a friend of a friend who was doing drugs, and usually it was just weed, whereas here I think you have much closer connections and also with much harder drugs.

"I guess another thing that surprised me was how easy it was to get whatever you wanted, whether it was at a party or club, day or night. Obviously I'm not saying it doesn’t happen in Serbia, but it's definitely less spoken about, and also just seems less intense. I don’t think the drug culture there will ever be like how it is in the UK, but it's definitely changing."