Release’s Coronavirus Drug Purchases Impact Survey

Time period: April 2020 – present

Description: An anonymous online survey designed to monitor changes in the UK’s drug supply went live on 09/04/2020 – 17 days after the UK’s first comprehensive pandemic-related lockdown measures were implemented. To date, the ‘Coronavirus Drug Purchases Impact Survey’ has generated almost 4,000 returns, in which respondents report detailed information on purchases, including date, price, perceived quality/purity and difficulties encountered making the purchase compared to pre-COVID experiences. Interim findings based on 2,621 responses received between the survey’s launch and 17/09/2020, captured drug purchases made in anticipation of, and during, the first UK lockdown, as well as the easing and lifting of these restrictions. These findings were published by Release in an interim report, and the survey in still ongoing. Updated analyses included survey returns received up until 19/08/2021; capturing changes to the UK drug market during subsequent national lockdowns. These findings were presented at the ESC 2021 conference (paper: ‘Drugs in the Time of COVID’), and will be published by Release at the end of 2021. In addition to launching the Survey in April 2020, Release also set up a national ‘Drug Market Monitoring Network’ – made up of 46 individuals from across the UK who are drug experts either by lived experience, front line work in drug services, or activism in the fields of harm reduction and recovery – in order to monitor UK drug markets and access to services/harm reduction equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. The intelligence gathered by this network is distributed by Public Health England to local agencies via their monthly drug alerts system.

Contact:  Dr. Laura Garius ( & Prof. Judith Aldridge (