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Survey: drug and alcohol use among young in decline

Up in smoke: the report reveals that cannabis is more popular among teens than conventional cigarettes

Alcohol and tobacco use among young people appears to be declining, according to a recent survey.

A report by the Department of National Drug Control showed, however, that cannabis use is more common among school pupils than smoking regular cigarettes.

The survey of 2,701 children between the ages of 10 and 18 was conducted by the DNDC and the Ministry of Education last October.

The results, released yesterday, showed that 48.4 per cent of respondents reported using at least one drug in their lifetime, down from 52.8 per cent in 2019, when the last survey was carried out.

A breakdown of the figures indicated that 42 per cent of students had sampled alcohol, 12.6 per cent had taken cannabis and 3.5 per cent had smoked cigarettes. In 2019, those figures were 45.2 per cent, 18.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent, respectively.

Almost 15 per cent of S4 students said that they take cannabis at present, compared with less than 2 per cent who said they smoke cigarettes. Consumption of cannabis was also higher among girls than boys.

The results suggested that health factors may be a reason for cannabis being more popular than tobacco.

A government statement on the survey said: “The majority of students — 92 per cent — perceived ‘smoking cigarettes frequently’ to be the most harmful behaviour in terms of health risk when compared to alcohol or marijuana use, whereas ‘smoking marijuana sometimes’ is perceived to be harmful by 81.5 per cent of survey respondents.”

More than a quarter of S4 students said that they consume alcohol, but the survey revealed that 3.7 per cent of ten-year-olds also drink.

Another shock statistic revealed that more than a fifth of respondents — 22.1 per cent — said they had been a passenger in a car driven by someone who had drunk alcohol, while 8.2 per cent said they had been a passenger on a bike driven by someone who had been drinking.

According to the findings, alcohol and marijuana were “easily accessible”.

The statement said: “Roughly one in ten — 10.4 per cent — students was offered to buy or use marijuana in the past 30 days of the survey and 13.7 per cent were offered to buy or use alcohol.

“Nearly three in ten students — 28.8 per cent — were curious to try an illegal drug, while just over one in five — 23.7 per cent — reported that the opportunity to try an illicit drug would be taken if presented.”

It concluded: “These findings underscore the dynamic nature of adolescent substance use, emphasising the ongoing need for vigilant monitoring and targeted intervention to address emerging trends effectively.“

• For a government infographic on the National School Survey, see Related Media

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Published April 30, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated April 30, 2024 at 7:55 am)

Survey: drug and alcohol use among young in decline

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