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The Rising Number of Young Drug Users

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By the age of 16 nearly one in ten boys regularly take drugs, according to new report.

18,000 pupils at 67 schools took part in the nationwide survey to establish how often children take drugs and the results are quite worrying.

Out of every 1000 boys:

  • -          At 11yrs of age 12 regard themselves as regular drug users, using drugs every week over a period of 3 months or more
  • -          At 14yrs of age 59 regard themselves as regular users
  • -          At 16yrs of age 88 regard themselves as regular drug users

Cannabis is the most used drug but heroin and cocaine drug use is also on the rise amongst children.

7 out of every 1000 11yr old users say they have tried heroin and 13 admit to using cocaine.

1 in 10 16yr old boys and 1 in 14 16yr old girls said that although they did not use drugs they expected to try them over the next 12 months.

'The critical period for initiation occurs for girls at age 13 and for boys at 14,' Researcher Jeremy Gluck told the Daily Mail.

'The dramatic increase in (drug) usage at the ages of 13 and 14 is a central feature of sub-stance use and preventative work could usefully be focused on the years preceding these age groups.' he said.

Three quarters of the non drug taking children were recorded as having high self esteem whereas less than half of those who admitted to taking drugs had ‘low self-esteem’.

The children who were drug users and had ‘low self-esteem’ were more vulnerable to fail at school, more likely be involved in criminal activity, suffer ill-health and are more likely to be a single parent, according to the report.

As it has been well reported alcohol abuse in children is also on the rise and this new study suggests that children who first become accustomed to alcohol are more likely to try drugs in the future.

Mary Brett of the National Drug Prevention Alliance told the Daily Mail that ‘the survey was proof that the Government had failed to begin to get to grips with the menace’.

'It is vital that we start to tell children the truth about drugs, starting with the truth that cannabis is not harmless but a gateway drug that does lead on to other and worse drugs.

'Children should not just be told to say no. They should be told why - how drugs affect not just your body but your social and economic future.' She said.

Newcastle University sociologist Norman Dennis also commented on the survey saying 'the scale of use shown here is high and it is going in the wrong direction.

'The question we have to look at is not just how big it is, but what it was like a few years ago. The answer is that the level of drug abuse was very small not long ago.'

'We are not doing anything to reduce it, and the more children are given the message that using drugs is acceptable the more they will do so.

'America managed to cut drug abuse in the 1980s with the "just say no" campaign but nothing like that has been tried here.' He continued.

Full story: The Daily Mail

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