“Britain – the top teen drug user of Europe!”
Parents catching sight of recent press headlines might be anxiously wondering if their own teenage son or daughter’s constant lack of a good night’s sleep is more than just about kids being on social media sites 24/7.
Four in ten teenagers…
New research has found that nearly four in ten teenagers in the UK said they had taken substances, including cannabis and ecstasy, according to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD).
The survey questioned 15 and 16 year olds from schools in 30 European countries. Of the 223 schools in the UK which participated, 36 per cent of teenagers admitted to trying an illegal drug. There are 5.4 million teenagers in the UK (Office of National Statistics), so that could mean some 1.9 million youngsters are at potential risk of substance abuse and addiction.
Too far-fetched, you say? In 2014, figures released by the Home Office show that illicit drug use in England and Wales rose by an estimated 230,000 to 2.7 million over the previous year. Nearly 80 per cent or 180,000 of the extra users were teenagers and young adults aged 16 to 24, who make up 1.1 million of the total number.
It may not be too alarmist to point to further evidence of drug use appearing to be growing among Britain’s youngsters…
Drugs used include cannabis, crack cocaine…
More than 2,000 incidents over the last four years involve school children, one as young as eight years old, according to figures recently obtained from around 30 police forces under the Freedom of Information Act. The drugs used include cannabis, crack cocaine, LSD and ecstasy.
While nearly 80 per cent of youngsters aged between 11 and 15 say they have never taken drugs, according to children’s drug protection charity, Mentor UK, the organisation also says an estimated 360,000 secondary school aged pupils in England took at least one drug in the previous year.
The one drug is likely to be cannabis – the most widely used illegal drug, according to Mentor UK with 7.5 per cent of secondary school pupils and 14 per cent of 16 to 19 year olds saying they took the drug in the last year.
It’s obviously worrying news. Some parents who might have dabbled with a few recreational ‘soft’ drugs in their younger days are sure to be aware that over the decades the strength of many – most famously, “skunk” cannabis – have been increased many times over to dangerously high levels.
So what to do if you’re worried your teenage son or daughter may be taking drugs?
Firstly, “Don’t Panic”, as Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army would say! It’s important to start talking things over with your growing young adult, find out a little bit more about their world, their friends and any peer pressure they may feel under to become involved with taking drugs.
No doubt you will be told in no uncertain terms that they “can handle it, no problem” but ultimately, you may need to seek professional advice if you suspect there is a problem. The key is not to get angry but always to listen before passing them the benefit of your experience on the left hand side…