Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Letting Our Communities Flourish

My thanks to Jill from Drugscope for bringing my attention to the Scotish Government’s Serious Organised Crime Taskforce report, Letting our Communities Flourish; A Strategy for Tackling Serious Organised Crime in Scotland.

Of course geographically Scotland is a bit off our patch, but  I thought it was an opportunity to check how what they’re saying compares to the Home Office’s strategy, One Step Ahead A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime.

Read the rest of this entry »


Filed under: Scotland

Know the Score

Know the ScoreKnow the Score is the information and advice service on drugs in Scotland.

They’re running a campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children about drugs and to become better informed themselves.  The video they’ve got on the front page of the website makes the point that information about drugs is better coming from parents than from school gossip.

Launching the campaign Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said:

“Parents are as aware and concerned as anyone about the harm which drugs cause in our communities. But many are less certain about the relevance of this to their children, and even so, what they might do about it.

“As this new Know the Score campaign makes clear, if parents don’t discuss drugs with their children, someone else will and very often they’ll be getting the wrong advice.”

Readers of this blog will recall that surveys of parents of teenagers tend to show that while they think that their children’s peer group are taking more drugs they tend to under-estimate their own children’s use.

Filed under: parents, Scotland

Scotland – Young People and Alcohol

Two stories from north of the boarder which though off our turf – the Drug Education Forum’s geographical remit is England – are worth noting.

The Scottish Government website has Young people to help tackle alcohol misuse:

A Youth Commission on Alcohol is to be set up so that young people can play an active role in tackling Scotland’s £2.25 billion alcohol misuse problem.

Announcing the new commission at the Scottish Government’s Summit on Underage Drinking in Edinburgh, Public Health Minister Shona Robison said the forum would allow young people to give direct feedback to Ministers. She said young people themselves were the key to getting to grips with underage drinking.

Ms Robison and Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, spoke to 150 adults and young people at the one-day summit which featured a series of workshops on tackling underage drinking.

Meanwhile the Guardian report on moves by the government banning sales of alcohol to those under 21:

Scotland is considering a ban on alcohol sales to under-21s in a bid to make “the streets safer and communities better”, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, said today.

The SNP is considering the ban on alcohol sales outside pubs and clubs as part of its legislative programme for the year ahead.

Filed under: Scotland

Smoking ban in England has a dramatic impact on prevalence

Nursing Times on the smoking ban, and the impact of schools on young people’s smoking behaviour:

In addition to helping people quit smoking, an important aspect of public health promotion is preventing young people from taking up smoking. Henderson et al investigated whether school characteristics can account for differences in smoking rates between schools.

The survey, led by the MRC and based on 5,092 secondary school pupils in 24 Scottish schools, found that school-level characteristics have an impact on both male and female pupils’ rates of smoking up to 15/16 years of age. The size of the ‘school effect’ was greater for boys at this age. The research found that the social environment in schools – particularly the quality of teacher-pupil relationships, pupils’ attitudes to school and the school’s focus on caring and inclusiveness – can influence both boys’ and girls’ smoking.

The MRC says that this research is particularly important because the decreases in adult smoking witnessed in recent years have not so far been matched in adolescent smokers. The survey found that, on average, 25% of males and 39% of females aged 15–16 reported that they either regularly or occasionally smoked.

The Henderson paper says they looked at whether sex and relationships education had an influence on prevalence, but decided not to look at smoking education:

We did not collect data on school-based smoking education or school level smoking policies. A recent Cochrane review [8] concluded that school-based smoking education is largely ineffective, and so collecting such data might not have influenced the results substantially. It is not clear whether data on school level smoking policies would have affected the results: this would be a very interesting avenue for future research.

They conclude:

We observed ‘school effects’ on rates of smoking for males and, to a lesser extent, females at 15/16 years. For male school pupils, attitude to school, quality of staff-pupil relationships, school-level affluence and its interaction with school level poor quality of staff-pupil relationships, were all associated with school level smoking rates and successfully explained the ‘school effects’. It is likely that there are additional effects of peer influence and perhaps small geographical area effects. However, peer influence is itself subject to the school effects and evidence to date suggests that area effects are smaller than school effects. Therefore, our results suggest that changing school characteristics may have an effect on smoking and so support a Health Promoting School approach.

Filed under: Scotland, tobacco,

Outlawing alcohol until the age of 21 is no cure for underage drinking

Rowenna Davis writing for Comment is free in the context of the proposals on changing the age at which off sales become legal:

Those who have taken the time to ask young people themselves why they are misusing alcohol have found that they drink because they are trying to escape the pressures of everyday life, alleviate boredom or build their confidence in social situations. We need to offer better ways for our young people to solve these problems. This requires understanding alcohol consumption, not banning it.

Filed under: alcohol, Scotland

WHO Report and Scottish Alcohol Proposals

The Telegraph:

A study, by the World Health Organisation, will show that more young people in Britain have been drunk at a young age than in most other developed countries.

The figures, published every couple of years and to be released on Wednesday, look at the intake of alcohol and drugs, and the sexual behaviour, of young teenagers in 41 countries across the world.

They are expected to show that Britain has the fourth highest levels of underage drinking among 15-year-olds.

They go on to say that this is a slight improvement on the last survey where we were 2nd to Denmark.

There’s also a fair bit of coverage of the proposals being put forward by the Scottish Government, which include raising the age at which young people can purchase alcohol in off-licensed premises to 21.

The Telegraph has an opinion piece by Alan Cochrane:

I have some sympathy with the ministers in their quest to try to cut back on binge and underage drinking. At their press conference today, they’re bound to say that raising the age limit to 21 would be a clear demonstration of how seriously they take the problem.

But while such a move might stop some drink getting into the hands of children, it can’t have anything other than a minimal effect.

The Independent has a leader:

Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of liver cirrhosis in the world. Does it not make sense to make alcohol harder to get hold of, if only for teenagers?


The answer is no. While one can sympathise with politicians wanting to take radical action to curb binge drinking, the remedy does not lie in simplistic legislative responses. Just as new 24-hour drinking laws did not lead to the boom in alcohol-related crime that some scaremongering press predicted, so raising the legal age of buying alcohol from off-licences will not bring about a dramatic decline in the type of anti-social behaviour associated with binge drinking…

…the key to fighting it lies not in fiddling with the statute book, but in fostering a longer-term change in attitudes. Such a shift can only be achieved through a concerted education campaign that makes all of us rethink our relationship with alcohol. It is no quick fix, but it remains the only realistic way of creating a more responsible attitude towards drinking in Britain.

The Scotsman:

With booze like White Lightning cider widely available for as little as 35p a can, even young children can afford to get dangerously drunk for under a fiver.

All-day drinking in the park or the high street is almost a rite of passage in Britain’s binge-drinking culture, which sees some teenagers consume around 200 units of alcohol in a week– nearly ten times the adult male’s safe limit.

See also – Plan for ‘minimum priced’ alcohol (BBC); Underage drinking ‘will not stop’ (BBC); Affluent drinkers are ‘in denial’ (BBC); ‘Radical’ alcohol sales plans due (Channel 4); Should it be illegal for under-21s to buy booze? (The Mirror)

Filed under: alcohol, Scotland

Alcohol Stories

Not all exactly within our sphere, but setting out across a range of different media outlets the continuing concern about how much some of us drink and the impact that’s having.

Channel 4 – News – Government ‘demonising alcohol’

The Scottish Government has been warned it risks “demonising alcohol for young people” if it increases the age for buying drink in supermarkets and off-sales to 21.Ministers are preparing to publish a new action plan for dealing with alcohol.

And it is understood that that will include a proposal to increase the age for buying booze in off-sales and supermarkets to 21.

Will England follow Scotland in raising age for buying alcohol? | Mail Online

The minimum age for buying alcohol in shops or off-licences in Scotland is set to be raised from 18 to 21.The move is being watched carefully by Whitehall. Similar innovations north of the border – including banning smoking in pubs and restaurants – have been copied in England and Wales.

There is growing concern about discount sales in supermarkets which encourage youngsters to get drunk on cheap booze before going out to pubs and clubs.

Tom Reynolds: As an ambulance man, I see what Britain’s drinking costs | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

They live together in squalor: both suffer from the diseases of the liver that we only used to see in people past their 40th birthday. Dried and bloody vomit covers the cooker. Both patients are in their early 20s.The British Liver Trust has released figures showing that admissions due to alcohol have more than doubled in the last 12 years. Alcohol was the main or secondary cause of 207,800 NHS admissions in 2006/7. These are people who have been admitted into hospital due to the effects of drinking.

My patient, who is 24, has been incontinent. He is also covered in vomit. He is bleeding from a cut on his forehead caused when he passed out drunk.

Crackdown on underage alcohol sales – Children & Young People Now

A Welsh authority has nearly halved the number of sales of alcohol to under-18s in two years.

Filed under: alcohol, Scotland

Drugs leaflet offers advice to family members

Edinburgh Evening News:

PARENTS and grandparents in the Capital are to be advised on drugs in a bid to stop youngsters becoming hooked.

Leaflets called Know the Score: Drugs – What Every Parent Should Know, will be sent out to every relative who plays an important role in a young person’s life as part of a Scottish Government scheme.

The initiative will cost £478,000, and will see the booklets delivered to 750,000 homes across the country.

Filed under: Scotland

Call to beef up drugs strategy – Scotland

Galloway Today carry criticism of the new Scottish drug strategy from Labour’s community safety spokesman Paul Martin:

He claimed the SNP promised a 20% increase in drug funding but provided 14% and had backed away from a pledge to ring fence money for drug education.

“What is needed new are greater resources and a target driven approach to this issue,” he added.

Filed under: Scotland

Strategy aims to help addicts become drug-free

A New Approach to Tackling Scotland\'s Drug ProblemThe Press & Journal have an article about the new Scottish drug strategy, which I bring you because it’s always worth knowing what perspective the other nations in the United Kingdom put on the issues that we’re interested in. As you’ll no doubt have already seen from coverage elsewhere there’s a big focus on delivering recovery for those going through treatment.

But Mr Ewing said the strategy was not just about helping those with drug problems but prevention, with help for parents, drug education in schools, help for prisoners, tackling drug supply and economic growth with stronger families and communities.

The strategy can be found here, and the blurb says:

The Government believes that preventing drug use is more effective than treating established drug problems and that treatment services in Scotland should be based on the principle of recovery.

The chapter of the strategy that deals with preventing drug use has this to say about substance misuse education:

Substance misuse education in schools is often the first line of prevention against drug use, providing opportunities to pass on accurate, up-to-date facts, explore attitudes and, crucially, foster the skills needed to make positive decisions. It is not just about classroom teaching, but encompasses all policies, practices, programmes, initiatives and events in the school connected with the prevention and reduction of drug-related harm. The evidence is clear that no one approach to prevention and education is effective, and that one-off interventions will have limited value. Furthermore, we know that the culture, relationships and opportunities in schools contribute to young people’s social and academic outcomes, and that these are relevant to a whole range of behaviours including drug use. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: drug education, drug strategy, Scotland,

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 2018
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