Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Inquest to warn of drug dangers – Manchester

The BBC report on a coronor who has invited pupils from a girls school to an inquest into a drug death he is hearing:

Mr Meadows said by inviting pupils they would get to hear about the wider dangers associated with drug use.

“It’s an opportunity to inform and educate them because they see a real case, involving a real life and a real death.

“They see how drugs blight their lives, sadly, before they die.

“They see the effect it has on friends and family and learn about the dangers of drugs that they would never have appreciated before.”

Filed under: death

VSA Deaths

St Georges have produced their annual report on volatile substance abuse deaths the latest figures are for 2006.

Their press release says:

In 2006, butane from all sources accounted for 33 of the 49 deaths and of these butane cigarette lighter refills formed the largest group. Five deaths in 2006 were as a result of asphyxia associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide.

In under-18 year olds there were six deaths resulting from volatile substance abuse in 2006, compared with eight in 2005. Two of these deaths were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation.

In the report they point out that there were no deaths amongst 10-14 age group in 2006, but:

In 2006 there were no VSA deaths in the 10-14 age group, but at ages 15-19 years VSA accounted for 0.6% of deaths from all causes. In 2006, transport accidents which are by far the most frequent cause of death in these age groups, accounted for 15.4% of all deaths at ages 10-14 years and 31.6% of all deaths at ages 15-19 years. Deaths associated with drug misuse accounted for 0.4% of all deaths in the 10-14 age group and 4.6% of all deaths in the 15-19 age group.

Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006

Source: Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006

With a slightly longer perspective things do change.  Since 2000 there have been 32 VSA deaths for the 10 to 14 age group (which compares to 8 deaths related to drug misuse over the same period).  Over the same period 21 VSA deaths can be attributed to 15 year olds (20 deaths due to drugs).  At 16 years the lines have very much crossed as there were 13 VSA deaths and 28 deaths that could be attributed to drugs.

Looking at the trends in VSA as highlighted in the recent Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking among Young People in England in 2007, they show there has been a decline in the numbers of 11 to 15 year olds abusing volatile substances.  Down from 7.1% in 2001 to 6.2% in 2007.  Girls are marginally more likely to abuse volatile substances than boys, but this is not reflected in the statistics reported by St Georges.  They say that all the deaths to under 18s in 2006 were males.

Filed under: death, VSA, ,

That’s not what I meant by ‘chemistry practical’

The Guardian’s Mortarboard:

Last-minute revision notes? Check. Spare ink cartridges? Check. Lucky mascot? Check. 250mg of amphetamines? Check.

It’s not as an unlikely scenario as it might seem. Paul Cooper, education professor from the University of Leicester, is saying that as more people are getting used to being prescribed drugs such as Prozac or Ritalin – or speed – to modify their behaviour, pills to pep up grades could become increasingly common.

The recent Mentor UK literature review of drug prevention in universities and colleges suggests that:

Little is known about the harm that alcohol and/or drugs cause among students in the UK and about the effectiveness of universities and colleges’ efforts to prevent substance misuse and related harm… The paper concludes that more effort is needed to build the evidence base of drug prevention, increase the profile of drug prevention in further and higher education and support further education colleges and universities to deliver effective interventions.

On a darker note, Trends in deaths related to drug misuse in England and Wales, 1993–2004 (see pages 24 to 28) suggests that deaths atributable to drugs is highest amongst young people. The paper points out:

in 2004 drug misuse was the third most common cause of death among young adults aged 15–34

The following graph shows the number of deaths per million people by age.

Filed under: death, university

Target missed for cutting deaths from drug abuse

The Guardian covered the numbers of drugs deaths in 2004, there was a particular focus on the numbers of young people who have died as a result of drugs. They report:

In 2004, 565 young men and 123 young women aged 15 to 24 died because of drugs – most often addiction but also through accidental poisoning.

In spite of the rise in cocaine, ecstasy and codeine deaths, heroin and morphine were still the biggest killers (48%), followed by methadone (22%), and benzodiazepines such as valium and librium (15%).

Update: I’ve been trying to find the figures that the Guardian use on the ONS site and I have found some, but not ones that correspond to their numbers. For example the ONS data says that fewer than 40 young people under the age of 20 in England and Wales died as a result of drugs than in 2004 and that the trend is down:

Amongst older young people in England and Wales (20 to 29 years old) the trend also looks as if it is down on the early part of this century:

Even added together the numbers under 30 years old don’t match those that are in the Guardian’s story.

I don’t doubt the figures that paper quote are accurate and tell a shocking story about the risks that some young people take with their health and are tragedies for the families affected, but I am confused as to the discrepancy.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Filed under: death, illegal drugs

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021