Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Ecstasy Review

The ACMD’s review of ecstasy gets a lot of media coverage so I thought I’d look at what we know about young people’s understanding and use of the drug.

The last annual survey of 11 to 15 year old young people suggested that 75% were aware of the drug.  They said:

There has also been a steady decline in the proportion of pupils who had been offered ecstasy, from 10% in 2001 to 7% in 2007.

It also showed the proportion of young people taking the drug; 1.3% of pupils in the age range said they had taken in the last year, with slight variances between boys and girls (see chart).  As with many other drugs the proportions rise with age so while 0.2% of 11 year olds said they had tried the drug in the last year this rose to 2.9% of 15 year olds.

The BBC have the figures for adults, inlcuding young adults:

The latest official figures show an estimated 567,000 people aged between 16-59 used ecstasy in 2006/07, and 272,000 of those were aged between 16-24.

As the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, pointed out earlier this year, small percentages still mean quiet large numbers of young people (if my maths is right about 42,000 pupils). 

Sir Liam said:

The percentage who have ever taken any drugs has decreased slightly in the last 10 years, but the percentage taking Class A drugs has stayed constant. Substance misuse in young people has been linked to suicide, depression, conduct disorders, educational problems and long-term mental health effects.

See also:  the Daily Star, BBC, Independent (x2), Daily Mail, Metro, Mirror, Guardian, and Times (x2).

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Filed under: ACMD

2 Responses

  1. The flaw in this sort of reasoning is that it fails to take into account the incidence of poly substance use and the damage subsequently arising.

    The re-classification of a drug when looked at in isolation may be clinically justified, but therein lies the problem since ecstasy, in common with other psycho active substances, with the possible exception of alcohol, is rarely a drug used in that manner.

  2. drugeducationforum says:

    I’m sure you’re right about poly drug use Peter but I hope I haven’t made any assumptions about the classification of ecstasy.

    Our line is going to be the same on this as it was on cannabis: that which class the drug is in needs to be communicated clearly and effectively to children and young people, and they should have an entitelment to learn the skills and develop the attitudes that will keep them healthy.

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