Recent Drug Abuse Statistics

Recently, the results of the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) 2006 were released, along with the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2006, giving an insight into the prevalence of drug abuse in Scotland in all age groups. Of course, these statistics are very similar to the rest of the UK and give us valuable statistical information on the current level of drug use.

The statistics below are certainly significant for parents who may not realise how many children use illegal drugs and equally for employers who may not have considered how many of their employees may be under the influence of substances whilst in the workplace.

The SCVS survey took the views and experiences of just under five thousand adult respondents representing a cross section of society, whilst the SALSUS survey covered over 23,000 children. The results of these studies are summarised as follows:

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Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2006:

Many parents are currently unaware of the prevalence of substance misuse amongst children. Prevention is obviously the key here, but often parents put off discussing drug issues with their children, assuming that they won’t be exposed to them until they are older. As the statistics below demonstrate, drug use can occur very early on in today’s culture. So don’t make the mistake of putting off your drug and alcohol awareness talk with your children.

9% of 13 year olds and 27% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug at some point in their lives.

7% of 13 year olds and 23% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug in the year prior to the survey.

4% of 13 year olds and 14% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey which is indicative of more frequent recreational drug use.

There was little difference between boys and girls in the percentage who reported that they had used illicit drugs in the last month (13 year olds, boys 4%, girls 3%: 15 year olds, boys 14%, girls 12%).

4% of 15 year olds reported using illicit drugs at least once a week (including those reporting use on most days). An additional 4% of 15 year olds reported that they usually used illicit drugs once or twice a month and 4% a few times a year.

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Links between smoking, alcohol and drug use?

33% of 13 year olds and 50% of 15 year olds who were regular smokers had also used drugs in the last month. The prevalence was lower than this among weekly drinkers; 19% of 13 year olds and 34% of 15 year olds who were weekly drinkers had also used drugs in the last month, but still higher than the overall prevalence for all pupils (4% of 13 year olds and 13% of 15 year olds).

So what about the availability of drugs?

As with other UK data concerning the availability of drugs, this survey also showed how many children have actually been offered illegal drugs.

In 2006, just under one quarter (23%) of 13 year olds and over half (53%) of 15 year olds reported that they had ever been offered illicit drugs. There was little difference between boys and girls in their experience of being offered illicit drugs. At age 13, 25% of boys and 21% of girls reported having been offered illicit drugs, whilst at age 15 years old 55% of boys and 51% of girls had been offered illicit drugs.

It seems that there is a definite cultural shift toward substance abuse in the younger generations and this is very difficult to reverse as the young people themselves become parents with a more liberal and relaxed attitude towards drugs. Having a greater awareness of drugs, their effects and the associated hazards is vital for parents if they are to educate their children.

Many parents are also unaware of home drug testing kits which are available via mail order. When used in conjunction with open communication, drug information and co-operation, these kits can be used to help deter children from abusing drugs and to create an opposing force against peer pressure. Being able to say, “Sorry, I can’t use drugs because my parents test me at home” can make all the difference.

Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) 2006:

This survey covered adult drug use trends – which of course affect the workplace, road safety and many other areas of modern living. Employers in particular should be aware of the following statistics and how they can affect the safety of all employees.

Over one third (37%) of all respondents reported having taken illicit drugs at least once during their lifetime, while 13% reported using illegal drugs in the last year.

There was a trend for more male respondents to report having used drugs (43%) than female respondents (31%) at any point in their lifetime.

Over 55% of those respondents aged 20 to 34 years old, 46% of those aged 16 to 19 years old and 39% of 35 to 39 year olds and a fifth of 40 to 59 year olds had used drugs at some stage in their lives, showing that the younger age ranges are far more likely to use illegal drugs.

With regard to more recent drug use, a third of male respondents in each age group under 29 years old had used drugs in the last year. This fell to 21% of 30 to 34 year olds, 17% of 35 to 39 year olds and 4% of 40 to 59 year olds. The number of female respondents reporting drug use in the last year also declined with age (36% of 16 to 19 year olds, 24% of 20 to 24 year olds, 12% of 25 to 29 year olds and 5% of 30 to 34 year olds).

With regard to which drugs were used most commonly, it was determined that Cannabis (or Marijuana) was the drug most frequently used in the year prior to the survey and used ever (11% and 33% respectively). Cocaine was reported to have been used in the last year by 4% of those questioned and used ever by 9%. Ecstasy was used in the last year by 3% and used ever by 10% of respondents. Amphetamines and poppers had each been used in the last year by 2% of respondents and used ever by 14% and 10% of respondents respectively.

The highest level of Cannabis use ‘ever’ was reported amongst 20 to 24 year age olds (54%) and 25 to 29 year olds (53%). The same was observed for cocaine (17% of 20 to 24 year olds and 18% of 25 to 29 year olds). Ecstasy use ever was reported most often among 25 to 29 year olds (25%) and 30 to 34 year olds (22%)

Other useful statistics were also taken into consideration such as which drugs people had been offered. Cannabis (Marijuana) was the drug reported as having been most frequently offered in the last year. 20% of males and 12% of females reported having been offered Cannabis in the last year

In conclusion, whether you are a parent concerned about your children or an employer looking to reduce the impact of substance abuse in the workplace, you need to arm yourselves with more information and develop a structured plan of action. Drug information, on-site drug and alcohol test kits, awareness training, etc, are all available – so formulate a strategy today!

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