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National Statistics
Publication

Statistics on Drug Misuse, England, 2019

This is part of

National statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
England, Wales
Geographical granularity:
Local Authorities, Regions
Date range:
01 Apr 2018 to 31 Mar 2019

Part 4: Drug use among young people

This part presents information on drug use among young people, as taken from two publications.

NHS Digital’s Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People (SDD) report surveys pupils in secondary schools across England every 2 years. It provides information on the smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours of young people in years 7 to 11, who are primarily aged 11 to 15. This was last published in August 2019.

Information on the treatment of young people is taken from the Public Health England publication Alcohol and drug treatment statistics: young people,  which uses data taken from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS).

 

Drug use prevalence and consumption

These are some of the outcomes from SDD 2018 on drug use prevalence and consumption.

In 2018:

  • 24% of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs, the same as in 2016.
  • The likelihood of having ever taken drugs increased with age, from 9% of 11 year olds to 38% of 15 year olds.
  • 17% of pupils said that they had taken drugs in the last year, compared to 18% in 2016 (not a statistically significant difference). 
  • Cannabis is the drug that pupils are most likely to have taken in the last year, with 8% saying they had done so; the same as in 2016 but below the 13% reported in 2001.

For the full published analysis on this topic, follow the link below:

Part 8 of Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people, 2018, NHS Digital

 

Young people who have taken drugs

These are some of the outcomes from SDD 2018 about young people who have taken drugs.

In 2018:

  • 31% of pupils perceived it to be easy to get illegal drugs, with no significant variation over the last ten years.
  • Over half of 15 year olds (55%) thought it would be easy to get illegal drugs, compared with 8% of 11 year olds.

The following are all based on pupils who had taken drugs on more than one occasion:

  • On the first occassion they tried drugs, 57% said they had got the drugs from a friend, with most of these being from a friend of the same age.
  • Overall 11% said they got drugs from a dealer, but this was 29% where a class A drug was taken. 
  • 44% of pupils said they were outdoors (in a street, park or other outdoor area) when they last obtained drugs, by far the most common type of location. 12% said they obtained drugs whilst at school.

For the full published analysis on this topic, follow the link below:

Part 9 of Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people, 2018, NHS Digital

 

Young people's attitudes to taking drugs

These are some of the outcomes from SDD 2018 about the attitudes of young people to taking drugs.

In 2018:

  • On the first occasion pupils took drugs, they were most likely to say they did so ‘to see what it was like’ (50%), whilst on the most recent occasion they were most likely to say ’to get high or feel good’ (42%).
  • Though acceptance of drug use remains fairly low amongst those surveyed, attitudes have eased somewhat since 2011.
  • 13% of pupils agreed it was OK for someone their own age to take cannabis to see what it was like; compared to 10% for sniffing glue, and 3% for taking cocaine.
  • 30% of 15 year olds thought it was OK to try cannabis, and 17% thought it was OK to use it once a week.

For the full published analysis on this topic, follow the link below:

Part 10 of Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people, 2018, NHS Digital

 

Young people receiving specialist substance misuse treatment

This section covers young persons (those under 18) in alcohol and drug specialist services.

Young people in treatment by primary substance and year

The number of young people attending specialist substance misuse services in 2017/18 was 15,583, down 5% from the previous year.  This includes those receiving treatment for alcohol only.

The primary substance is that which brought the young person into treatment at the point of triage/initial assessment. In the majority of cases (77%), cannabis was the primary substance, the same as in 2016/17. Drugs other than cannabis were the primary substance for only 8% of persons.

Chart showing young people is specialist substance misuse services by year and grouped substance

 

Young people in treatment by primary or adjuctive substance misuse

Adjunctive use is where the substance was cited by the young person in addition to the primary substance. More than one substance can be reported per person.

88% of young people attending substance misuse services in 2017/18 reported either primary or adjunctive cannabis use.

The number of young people citing problems with new psychoactive substances (NPS) more than halved since the previous year (585 in 2016/17 to 270 in 2017/18), and is 74% lower than 2015/16 when 1,056 reported problematic use. 

Chart showing young people is specialist substance misuse services by primary or adjunctive substance

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For more data relating to this section:

 

 

Young people receiving specialist substance misuse treatment in secure settings

This section covers young persons (those under 18) in secure settings, who are receiving treatment from alcohol and drug specialist services.

Young people in treatment by substance use

This includes the substances young people reported as having problems with, and required treatment for, at the triage assessment. More than one substance can be reported per person.

Cannabis was the most common substance reported by young people in treatment in secure settings (91% of all in treatment). Just under half said they had problematic alcohol use (47%), followed by nicotine (22%), and powder cocaine (16%).

Chart showing young people in secure settings receiving specialist substance misuse treament by substance use

 

Young people in treatment by gender and age

Approximately 92% of young people in treatment were male.  Males tended to be slightly older, with the most common age being 17, compared to 16 for females.

Chart showing young people in secure settings receiving specialist substance misuse treament by gender and age

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For more data relating to this section:

Last edited: 25 November 2019 12:03 pm