One in ten youths on drugs and one third on booze

NEARLY one in ten Edinburgh teenagers take drugs at least once a month, while a third are drinking alcohol on a weekly basis, a new survey has suggested.

The poll of 15-year-olds suggests youngsters in the Capital are far more likely to try - or at least admit to trying - drugs or alcohol than most other areas of Scotland.

Of the 9.5 per cent who admitted to taking illegal substances monthly, the overwhelming majority said they used cannabis, rather than harder drugs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Studies have shown the younger a person begins to drink or take drugs, the more likely they are to develop an addiction.

However, NHS Lothian said its own data suggested the problem was easing, and those in their mid-teens were less likely to indulge in drink and drugs than eight years ago.

The report was released by the Scottish Public Health Observatory, and reveals that 31.6 per cent of youngsters in Edinburgh admit to drinking - more than in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Only in Lanarkshire is the tally higher, according to the reports.

Sarah Matthews, campaigns manager for the British Liver Trust, said: "Alcohol-related liver damage used to be a disease of old age, yet we are now seeing people in their 20s with cirrhosis and liver failure.

"It is not difficult to see why, alcohol is promoted on our favourite sports stars' kit, plays a central role in the majority of soaps on TV and is piled high in our supermarkets and corner shops.

"Coupled with the fact it is sold at pocket money prices, where a bottle of coke is more expensive than cider, it calls into question what message this sends to young people."

Age aside, the Capital already has the worst record on alcohol in Scotland.

Recent research by NHS Lothian shows 11,000 men and 6000 women are drinking to the point that their health is seriously threatened, while thousands are admitted to hospital each year with alcohol poisoning.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In this report, it showed the national average to be 6.8 per cent of 15-year-olds taking drugs, and less than 30 per cent drinking.

The health board's specialist in public health, Jim Sherval, said: "These figures show a reduction on the previous survey in 2002.

"We hope to see a further reduction in future results based on the local prevention initiatives, treatments and support provided for young people.

"Young people who drink alcohol or use drugs can be prone to longer term health problems such as liver disease and addiction. With people this young our aim is always to work with partner organisations to provide co-ordinated prevention work and care which addresses all their health and welfare needs.

"We would encourage any young person who has difficulties with drugs and alcohol to talk to someone. It is much easier to tackle these problems when they are at an early stage."

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) said they had noticed a move from hard drugs to alcohol and cannabis among the under-18 age group.

Its chief executive, Paul Hayes, said: "Most young people turning to drug treatment for help have problems associated with cannabis and alcohol.

"Heavy use can lead to exclusion from school, family breakdown and crime.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We had already identified a generational shift among young adults who are turning away from Class A drugs. Now we learn that the same thing is happening amongst teenagers too."