A third of gay and bisexual men took illegal drugs over the last year, the Crime Survey of England and Wales has found.

The Times reports drug use by gay and bisexual men was three times higher than for straight men and was higher in the majority of individual drugs consumed including cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis.

Illegal drug use by gay and bisexual women was four times higher at almost 23% than among heterosexual women.

The survey stated: “Gay or bisexual adults were more likely to have taken any illicit drug in the last year than heterosexual adults. In particular, gay or bisexual men were the group most likely to have taken any illicit drug in the last year, with higher levels of illicit drug use than gay or bisexual women and heterosexual men.”

A third of gay men and almost 23% of gay women took an illegal drug in the past year compared with 11.1% of heterosexual men.

Overall an estimated 2.74 million of all adults aged 16 to 59 used illegal drugs in the year 2013-14, up 233,000 on the previous 12 months.

But the report said that data can fluctuate from one year to the next and that it “is not possible to tell whether the increases between 2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2014 signal a reversal of the long-term downward trends”.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “The coalition government is working hard to prevent illegal drug use – helping dependent individuals through treatment, educating young people about the risks and supporting law enforcement in tackling the illicit trade.

“There has been a long-term downward trend in drug use over the last decade. Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have continued to fall during the past three years and people going into treatment today are more likely to free themselves from dependency than ever before.”