Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Howard Parker on Young People and the ACCE Profile

Howard Parker

Via email I’ve had my attention brought to the Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs.

FEAD is an online resource that brings short video presentations from leading figures in the alcohol and drugs field direct to your screen. The contributors cover a range of topics honestly and directly – including: achievements, problem areas, and reflections on the field’s history.

One of the videos I’ve had the chance to watch is Professor Howard Parker talking about how young people’s drug use is changing.

You can watch what he says here.

Filed under: drug information, drug policy, treatment

Mapping Drug Use

I’ve come across IBM’s Many Eyes site (via the Guardian’s Datablog) which allows users to create visualisations from data in interesting ways, and I’ve been playing around with it.

tellusFirst up is some data from the DCSF website which looks at substance misuse by young people last year taken from the returns from the Tellus3 survey.

If you click on the pictures you should be taken to the site and be able to see the maps in more detail.

espadNext is a picture of the findings from the European School Survey published a few days ago, and for this one I’ve chosen cigarette use in the last 30 days.  However if you go to the site you’ll be able to see a range of data from that survey in map form.

Finally I’ve done something similar with the NTA’s data (as taken off the Guardian’s site) about young people accessing drug treatment.

nta(I have to say though that I’m not sure whether it’s a valid way of showing this data and if you have a view then feel free to drop me a comment.)

This picture shows the differences between regions in terms of the percentage of young people accessing  alcohol services.

Filed under: drug information

Tale of Two Generations – Addaction Survey

The BBC:

One in five children thinks their parents have tried drugs and one in 10 believes they still take them, a survey in England and Scotland suggests.

Some 90% of the 500 teenagers polled by charity Addaction said they were “against” drugs, but one in 10 thought celebrities made drugs seem “cool”.

Of 2,000 adults polled, 63% worried that stories about celebrity drug-taking would influence children.

(See also People Doing Drugs is Really Bad (BBC), Parents ‘naive’ about drug use by children (Guardian), Rave generation of parents more drug aware (ITN), Rave generation parents ‘more familiar with drugs’ (The Independent), Parents know about drugs – survey (Metro), One in five children think their parents have taken drugs (Telegraph), and Drugs survey shows lack of family communication (CYPN))

Addaction have a press release here which includes a quote from Deborah Cameron, their Chief Executive, who says:

Parents are more familiar with drugs than they were in the past – the rave generation of the 80’s have grown up and become parents.

This should give us the basis for more realistic discussions between parents and children about drugs, but our concern is that the demonisation of these issues often means the debate takes place in a moral panic.

The vast majority of young people do not take drugs or drink themselves senseless. Neither are they unduly influenced by media stories about celebrities taking drugs. But there are still problems – as many as one in six families are now affected by a family member’s problem drug use.

The full report is here, and has the following additional points that I found interesting:

  • The vast majority of people do think the government is not doing enough in tackling binge drinking (72 per cent) and drugs (76 per cent) among young people. However schools are seen as more effective with 43% saying they are doing a good job.
  • Around two thirds of adults questioned say they think illegal drug use among young people is increasing (67 per cent)
  • Parents were more likely to think other people’s children were using drugs than their own, with the majority of adults saying parents ‘don’t take enough responsibility’ for their children’s behaviour (83 per cent).
  • Only one in ten young people (eight per cent) said they would be likely to tell their parents if they were using drugs. Social networks are by far the preferred option, with two in three young people preferring to confide in friends
  • Only one in 100 would tell a teacher if they were using drugs whereas one in ten young people would turn to the government’s Talk to Frank website and helpline

Further reading:

Filed under: drug information, parents,

DrugScope’s Street Drug Trends Survey 2008

The annual survey that DrugScope does has been published.  It has found an increase in the use of diazepam including amongst some young people.  They also say:

Polydrug use – using combinations of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy – was highlighted by several respondents as a significant problem, among some young people.Commercially home-grown skunk cannabis was dominating the cannabis market in many areas, with users finding it hard to obtain lower strength resin or imported herbal cannabis.

 Coverage of the survey comes from Reuters, The Guardian, The BBC, The Daily Star, and ITN.

Filed under: Drug Education Forum Members, drug information, illegal drugs

Précis of Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking amongst Young People in 2007

As we’ve done in previous years we’ve been looking through the information from Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking amongst Young People in 2007 and now have a précis of what it says which we hope will be useful to those who don’t have quite as much time as I do to pour over the figures.

The paper can be downloaded here.

And for those who want it really short and sweet there’s also a single page of facts and figures.

Filed under: drug information

Is the teenage health message sinking in?

Healthcare Republic News takes a look at the Chief Medical Officer’s report and the latest statistics from the annual survey of 11 to 15 year old pupils in England:

One positive is that data from the NHS Information Centre suggest young people today may not be as bad as their predecessors.

A survey of secondary school pupils in England last autumn found that 10 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds admitted taking drugs in the previous month, down from 12 per cent in 2001.

Similarly, 6 per cent of teens admitted smoking at least once a week, the lowest rate since the surveys began in 1982.

Despite this, concerns remain. The CMO wants a summit to look at both health promotion and healthcare services for teenagers. He also wants NHS organisations to consult with the Youth Parliament and to set up a panel of teenagers to advise marketing executives on which campaign ideas will and, perhaps more importantly, won’t work.

Filed under: drug information, Health

Teenagers trying out soft drugs isn’t so bad for them – or for us

India Knight writing in the Sunday Times takes a look at the latest survey of young people’s drug use and argues that for most young people this any use of illegal drugs is likely to be short term. She says:

I don’t find the figures for teenagers especially alarming. I know we’re all supposed to tremble in our boots at the evil of recreational drug-taking but experimenting with drugs just seems to me normal – banal, really.

She admits this may be down to her own experiences with what she calls soft drugs. She concludes:

For the majority, being cool about drugs means shrugging them off – not because you’re nerdy or square, or because you’re scared, but because you’re intelligent enough to check out Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse, both touched by genius and both made repulsive through their excesses, and think, “Ew, no thanks”. This doesn’t mean that the spirit of experimentation is dead – teenagers are teenagers and trying things out is part of the process – but it does mean that we can ease off a bit on the gloomy prognosis front.

Smoking the odd (nonskunk) joint isn’t automatically going to turn a teenager into a raving, scabby crackhead. Frankly, it’s more likely to turn him intoa newspaper columnist.

Filed under: drug information, illegal drugs

Media Reaction to Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking among young people in England 2007

BBC NEWS – Teen drink and drug use falling

Rates of drug taking, smoking and drinking are falling among young teenagers, a national survey shows.

Nursing in Practice – Smoking among school children at 25-year low

Smoking among school children has fallen to its lowest level for 25 years, according to an NHS Information Centre survey published today.

Evening Standard – Child drug abuse: A quarter of under 16s have taken illegal substances

The worrying reality of child substance abuse was revealed today when figures showed a quarter of children have taken drugs and more than half have consumed alcohol.

The Independent- Fewer children drink, smoke or take drugs

Teenagers are sobering up – but the improvement is marginal, according to the latest survey of drinking, smoking and drug-taking by young people.

The Times – More young people are saying no to drugs, says NHS survey

Drug taking, smoking and drinking are falling among young people, a national survey shows.

Children and Young People Now – Drop in number of young drinkers and drug users

Drinking, smoking and drug use among young people have declined, new figures show.

The Mail – Child drug abuse: A quarter of under 16s have taken illegal substances

One in four secondary school pupils have taken illegal drugs at least once, according to alarming figures released yesterday.

The Telegraph – NHS: Thousands of schoolchildren drink six pints a week

One in five 11 to 15-year-olds in England – 640,000 school pupils – had drunk alcohol in the past week, figures published by the NHS Information Centre show.

Filed under: drug information, ,

Drug use smoking and drinking among young people in England in 2007

The annual survey of young people’s drug use, smoking and drinking has been published.

Here’s some of the key messages.

Illegal drugs:

The prevalence of drug use has declined overall since 2001. For example, in 2007, 25% of pupils said they had tried drugs at least once, down from 29% in 2001. There were corresponding falls over the same period in the proportions of pupils who said they had taken drugs in the last year and the last month.

  • 9% of pupils reported taking cannabis within the last year, a proportion which has fallen from 13% in 2001
  • 4% of pupils report having taken one of the eight Class A drugs asked about
  • only 5% of pupils overall take drugs once a month or more

There’s a strong message about VSA:

Pupils’ first drug use is more likely to be sniffing volatile substances than any other type of drug. Pupils who have taken volatile substances only are more likely than other drug users to say they have only tried drugs once and are less likely to report frequent drug use.

Unsurprisingly the small percentage who do take Class A drugs are most at risk:

The majority of those who report taking any Class A drugs – for example, cocaine, magic mushrooms, ecstasy or crack – say they take drugs at least once a month, and relatively few have taken drugs only once.

There are some good normative messages:

Pupils tend to feel that drug use is not acceptable behaviour within their age group. A minority think that it is OK for someone of their age to try cannabis once (10%), to try sniffing glue (9%) or to try cocaine (3%).

Again unsurprisingly the report notes that drug taking is associated with other risky behaviours, in particular they say:

the odds of having taken drugs in the last year and in the last month increase with the frequency of smoking and the amount of alcohol drunk in the last week.

They also say that pupils that have truanted or been excluded are more likely to take drugs.


There has been a long-term decline in the proportion of pupils who have tried smoking, from 53% in 1982 to 33% in 2007.

  • 6% of pupils said they smoked regularly (this is the lowest figure ever recorded by the survey).
  • Regular smokers smoke 6 cigarettes a day on average.

Again risk factors associated with smoking are similar to drug taking:

Pupils who have drunk alcohol recently are more likely to be regular smokers than those who have not; regular smoking is also more likely among pupils who have taken drugs compared with those who have not. Pupils who have truanted from school or have been excluded at some time in their lives are also more likely to be regular smokers than pupils who have not.


46% of pupils say they have never had an alcoholic drink, up from 39% in 2003.

The likelihood of having had a drink goes up with age, with 81% of 15 year olds saying they have drunk alcohol at least once.

  • 20% of pupils say they have drunk alcohol in the last 7 days.

There have been changes in the methodology for calculating how much people (including young people) are drinking. Using the new methodology:

pupils who drank alcohol in the last week consumed an average of 12.7 units, equivalent to over six pints of normal strength beer or nearly one and a half bottles of wine. Boys tend to drink more than girls and older pupils than younger ones.

The same risk factors for illegal drugs and smoking are present in those who drink regularly.

Filed under: alcohol, drug information, illegal drugs, tobacco,

Teenage clicks could save lives

Warwick Today:

Young people and adults in Warwickshire facing problems can receive online counselling from an award-winning service this month.

Kooth.com offers internet users aged from 11 to 25 advice with difficulties such as eating disorders, bullying, relationships, self-harm, school worries, drug and alcohol abuse and problems at home and they can log on during evenings and weekends when other services are unavailable.

The website is being piloted until the end of the month and has been paid for and managed by Warwickshire’s drug and alcohol team with a view to getting long-term funding.

Filed under: drug information

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