A downward trend in underage
Hospital admissions for alcohol –
specific conditions particularly
intoxication, are declining among
the under 18s, stated Public Health
England in 2016.
Alcohol trends in children aged 11-15
Health & Social Care Information Centre, 2016
In 2014 the lowest figure was recorded
for children consuming alcohol (38%).
49% of pupils who reported getting
drunk have done so at home, at a party
or over someone’s house.
79% of pupils feel socially pressured to
drink so they ‘look cool.’
91% of parents are aware of their child’s
Based on statistics from What About YOUth?
Survey (2014) retrieved from HSCIC.
Challenging social norms around alcohol
use in school and at home
There are strong links between the health and wellbeing of
children and young people and their educational attainment.
Both parents and schools should take a social norms approach –
correcting ‘myth-understandings’ about how common or
acceptable alcohol use is among young people.
Get young people to think about people their age who drink and
then present them with an accurate statistics.
Read the Mentor-ADEPIS briefing paper 2017 to find out more:
Including cigarettes, rolling tobacco and vaping.
A downward trend in underage smoking
Underage smoking levels are at their lowest since the Smoking,
Drinking and Drug Use Survey began in 1982.
Trends in children who smoke cigarettes
or rolling tobacco
What About YOUth? Survey, 2014
24% of pupils said they had ever
smoked (What About YOUth?
Girls are more likely than boys to
84% of underage smokers said that
smoking cigarettes helped them feel
more relaxed if they were nervous.
Weekly consumption of cigarettes
for boys who regularly smoked:
29.8 cigarettes per week and girls
smoked 22.4 cigarettes per week.Image retrieved from What About YOUth?
Trends in children who smoke
5% of children age 11 have smoked an e-cigarette (What About YOUth? Survey,
The downward trend in tobacco smoking could be a result of an increase in
children who smoke electronic cigarettes (Baul et al, 2016: 102).
There is a link between high e-cigarette use and areas of deprivation (What
About YOUth? Survey, 2014).
Regular use of e-cigarettes is rare and almost confined to those who have
already used tobacco (House of Parliament, 2016).
Young people believe flavored e-cigarettes are ‘less harmful’ than tobacco refills
(House of Parliament, 2016).
More research needs to be done around e-cigarette refills that contain
cannabinoid oil to understand health harms, prevalence and their effect on
Building resilience against smoking
School programmes based on a combination of social
competence and social influence approaches have shown,
small but consistent effects in preventing substance misuse.
Providing opportunities to learn and practice a range of
personal and social skills, including coping, decision-making
and resistance skills will help to reduce the number of
A holistic approach to education could minimise student
Includes substances banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971)
and the Psychoactive Substance Act (2016).
The prevalence of drug use increases with age:
6% of children age 11 have taken a drug at least
once and 24% of people age 15 (NHS, 2017).
26% of children have been offered cannabis this
Half of pupils heard of ‘legal highs’ and only 2.9%
of pupils said that they had experimented with
new psychoactive substances (NPS).
The number of children in drug treatment has
Most children who take drugs (70%) do so only
a few times a year (HSCIC, 2014).
Cannabis use in England varies regionally
with the South West having high prevalence
levels in children.Retrieved from NHS, 2017 based on statistics
from What About YOUth? Survey, 2014
Downward trends in children’s drug-taking
Drug awareness among children
Most pupils have heard of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and crack cocaine.
Other substances are less known (What About YOUth? Survey, 2014).
Less than half of pupils had heard of poppers, mephedrone, ketamine,
methadone or LSD (What About YOUth? Survey, 2014).
While there is a downward trend in cannabis consumption there is a need for
education campaigns that challenge social concepts that normalise cannabis
use (What About YOUth? Survey, 2014).
Just over half of school pupils heard the phrase ‘legal highs’ (NHS,2017).
The 2016 Drugs & Alcohol Needs Assessment for Children & Young People
in Kent found that media coverage around ‘legal highs’ had changed
people’s perception of the harms.
Since the law change the term ‘legal highs’ has been replaced with the
correct term ‘New Psychoactive Substances.’ This term isn’t widely used
with many children and young people being unaware of its meaning.
Effective drugs education in schools
Social competence approaches offering information but also allow pupils to model
and practice giving feedback and positive reinforcement. These approaches teach
personal and social skills such as generic self-management, target-setting,
problem solving and decision-making, as well as cognitive skills to be able to
resist media and interpersonal influences. They also increase assertiveness skills
and competence and to interact with others. This can help them better manage
relationships and situations where drugs may be present.
Infographic taken from Mentor
on the importance of PHSE in
preventing substance misuse.
Trends in Young Adults
Only includes illicit substances and NPS
Downward trends in young adults using NPS
NPS formerly known as ‘legal highs’ are now illegal
to sell, supply, distribute and manufacture.
Before the blanket ban 1 in 40 young adults (16-24)
reported using ‘legal highs.’ Uptake of these drugs in
the general population is low compared to illicit
substances (Home Office, 2015).
Uptake of NPS in the age bracket 11- 15 is a lot
lower than the adult population at 2.5%.
The most at-risk groups are homeless men or those
in custodial settings where synthetic cannabis is
Nitrous Oxide is the 7th most popular drug in the
world according to Global Drugs Survey and has
been widely used by young people age 16 -24.
It is difficult to assess the impact of the Psychoactive
Substance Act (May 26th 2016) until the 30 month
review of the Act.
Retrieved from the Home Office to reflect
popular NPS drugs that are used by people
aged 16-24, as well as people who are older.
An upward trend in MDMA use among
young adults aged 16-24
In 2015-16, 279,000 young adults reported using
ecstasy this trend is motivated by the purity of
MDMA (Home Office, 2016).
A European research paper, ESPAD, reported a
general upward trend in illicit drug-use in people age
15 – 16 with highest rates of MDMA use in Ireland.
There is no evidence to suggest that the trend of
purchasing MDMA drugs off the darknet is
concentrated in this age group but there is visible
evidence that documents a global increase in
people who purchase substances via PGP
encryption networks (Winstock 2016).
Picture taken from the drug testing service
The Loop who act as an early warning
system on purity levels.
Information for young people, professionals and parents.
Search the online drug
directory for specialist
information on NPS.
Watch short films
Find out about the latest
drug trends and news.
Why Not Find Out also visits
universities and colleges
promoting this platform
Why Not Find Out
Information for young people
Use the Centre for Analysis
of Youth Transitions (CAYT)
to access the database of
Attend CAYT seminars and
Enrol in the Mentor-ADEPIS
Order the Parent Handbook to
stay informed about substances
and their effects.
Get useful tips on how to have
an open conversation about
drugs with your child.
Request the handbook:
Information for professionals and parents
Bauld, L et al. (2016) E-Cigarette Uptake Among UK Youth: Experimentation, but Little or No Regular Use in Nonsmokers. Nicotine Tabaco Research. 98
(1), 102- 103.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2016. Recent Changes in Europe’s MDMA/ecstasy market. Luxembourg: EMCDDA
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2015. ESPAD Report. Lisbon: EMCDDA
Global Drug Survey, 2016. [online]. Available at: < https://www.globaldrugsurvey.com/past-findings/the-global-drug-survey-2016-findings/ > [ Last Accessed
March 9th 2017].
Gov.UK, 2016. Young People Are Less Likely to Drink; Does that Mean It Isn’t A Problem? [Online] 2nd August 2016. Available at:
< https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2016/08/02/young-people-are-less-likely-to-drink-does-that-mean-it-isnt-a-problem/ > [Last Accessed 29th March
Home Office, 2016. Drug Misuse: Findings from 2015/16 crime survey for England & Wales. London: Home Office.
Mentor- ADEPIS, 2016. School based Alcohol & Drug Education & Prevention- What Works? [Online]. 22nd March 2016. Available at:
< http://cayt.mentor-adepis.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FINAL-What-Works-Briefing-Paper-22.3.2017.pdf > [ Last Accessed March 2016].
NHS, 2017. Statistics on Drugs Misuse. [Online]. Available at:< bit.ly/2lYGwe7> [Last accessed March 8th 2017].
Health & Social Care Information Centre, 2016. Statistics Alcohol [Online]. Available at:< bit.ly/2mYMPmN> [Last accessed March 8th 2017].
House of Parliament, 2016. Electronic Cigarettes. [PDF]. Available at: < file:///C:/Users/emily/Downloads/POST-PN-0533.pdf > [ Last Accessed March 9th
Health & Social Care Information Centre (2016). Smoking, drinking and drug use amongst young people in England. [PDF]. Available at:
< http://content.digital.nhs.uk/media/18992/SDD-Consultation-Outcomes-Report/pdf/SDDConsultationOutcomesReport.pdf > [ Last Accessed March 9th
Office for National Statistics, 2016. Ecstasy deaths by age and gender, England & Wales, 1993 to 2015 registrations. [Online]. Available at:
s1993to2015registrations >. [Last accessed March 8th 2017].
WEDNOS, 2016. PHILTRE Annual Report. Wales: Llywodraeth Cymru Welsh Government.