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Registered: 06/18/99
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    #4274522 - 06/09/05 03:19 AM (11 years, 4 months ago)


More teens 'are trying drugs'
Monday, 6th June 2005

MORE teenagers are trying illegal drugs with a sharp rise in cannabis use over the last two decades, according to research published today.

Levels of drug use among 14-15-year-olds are now as high as at any time since the Schools Health Education Unit survey began in 1987.

About half of pupils in this age group have been offered at least one drug from a list including cannabis, heroin, speed, Ecstasy, cocaine and LSD.

The study found 29% of 14-15-year-old girls and 28% of boys said last year that they had taken at least one of these drugs.

Cannabis was the drug most often tried by teenagers - and in increasing numbers since the late 1980s.

Figures for 1987 showed 2% of the age group said they had taken cannabis.

By 2004, the figure had jumped to 27% of girls and 26% of 14-15-year-old boys.

Last year, 46% of boys and 42% of girls in this group were offered cannabis, compared with just 5% in 1987.

Dr David Regis, research manager at the Exeter-based Schools Health Education Unit, said older pupils had become less concerned about the dangers of taking cannabis.

"Year 10 pupils (aged 14-15) are much more likely now to say that it is safe if used properly," he said.

"My understanding is that cannabis has got more strong in terms of what is available on the street - cannabis oil for example.

"If anything, youngsters' opinions are going the other way to the street strength of the stuff.


"Over the last 20 years we have got much more evidence about the ill effects of short and long-term cannabis use."

Medical experts have warned that there is growing evidence linking cannabis use with mental illness such as schizophrenia later in life.

The Schools Health Education Unit research was based on hundreds of local surveys of 370,000 young people aged 10 to 15 across the UK between 1987 and 2004.

Other key findings included:

:* A steady rise in 14 and 15-year-olds taking drugs from 1987 to 1996;

* A decline from 1996 to 1999 but another rise again back up to the peak figures of around 30% of 14 and 15-year olds having taken drugs by 2004;

* Since the late 1980s there has been "a clear upward trend" in the proportion of pupils being offered illegal drugs, peaking at 53% of 14-15-year-olds in 2002.

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