Skip to main content
National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England - 2005, Full report

Official statistics, National statistics, Survey
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Date Range:
01 Jan 2005 to 31 Dec 2005


This annual publication presents figures from a survey of over 9,000 secondary school children aged 11-15 in England in the autumn term of 2005. The survey monitors prevalence of drug use, smoking and drinking and also investigates factors related to these behaviours. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) carried out the survey on behalf of The Information Centre for health and social care and the Home Office. This is the most recent survey in a series that began in 1982.

Each survey since 1998 has included a core section of questions on smoking, drinking and drug use and, since 2000, the remainder of the questionnaire has focused in alternate years on smoking and drinking or on drug use. The emphasis of the 2005 survey is on drug taking.

Key Facts

The 2005 survey showed that 22 per cent of 11-15 year-olds had drunk alcohol in the last week, 11 per cent had taken drugs in the last month and 9 per cent were regular smokers (smoke at least one cigarette a week). The 2005 results were broadly similar to those in recent years.

Ninety per cent of 15-year-olds have tried smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs and 55 per cent of 15-year-olds reported doing one of them recently (smoked or drunk alcohol in the last week or taken drugs in the last month).

Drug use

  • In 2005, 11 per cent of pupils aged 11 to 15 had taken drugs in the last month, a similar proportion to 2004 (10 per cent) and 2003 (12 per cent).
  • Nineteen per cent of pupils had taken drugs in the last year, a slight increase from 2004 (18 per cent) and similar to 2003 (21 per cent).
  • As in previous years of the survey, pupils were more likely to take cannabis than any other drug. Twelve per cent of pupils aged 11-15 had taken cannabis in the last year, similar to 11 per cent in 2004 and a decrease from 13 per cent in 2003.
  • Seven per cent of pupils reported taking volatile substances in the last year, an increase from 6 per cent in 2004 but less than in 2003 (8 per cent).
  • Four per cent of pupils had taken Class A drugs in the last year. This figure has not changed since 2001.
  • Thirty-nine per cent of pupils had ever been offered drugs, an increase from 36 per cent in 2004.
  • Pupils were more likely to report a good experience than a bad experience the first time they took drugs (46 per cent and 14 per cent respectively).


  • The prevalence of regular smoking (at least one cigarette a week) in 2005 was 9 per cent, this has remained stable, at between 9 per cent and 10 per cent, since 1999. Girls were more likely to be regular smokers than boys (10 per cent of girls, compared to 7 per cent of boys).


  • The proportion of pupils who drank alcohol in the last week was 22 per cent in 2005, a similar proportion to 2004. This proportion has varied between 20 per cent and 27 per cent since 1988.
  • The proportion of pupils who had never had a drink was the highest ever measured by this survey at 42 per cent.
  • The average consumption among pupils aged 11 to 15 who drank alcohol in the last 7 days increased from 5.3 units in 1990 to 10.4 units in 2000, and has fluctuated around this level since then. In 2005, the average weekly consumption was 10.5 units.


Related Links

Last edited: 11 April 2018 5:20 pm