The annual survey of young people’s drug use, smoking and drinking has been published.
Here’s some of the key messages.
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, Drug use smoking and drinking among young people in Eng