Trends in Substance Use Among Children

Date: 15th November 2016
Category: Children affected by substance misuse, Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

Scotland's Chief Statistician has recently released results from The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2015, providing information on tobacco, alcohol, and drug use among Scotland's secondary school children.

Substance use prevalence has remained largely stable since 2013, against a backdrop of considerable decline over the last couple of decades. Other results show that:

- In 2015, 19% of 13 year olds and 42% of 15 year olds had ever been offered drugs. This is a 5% increase for both age groups since 2013. There has also been an increase in the proportion who say they would find it easy to obtain drugs if they wanted to. However, drug use prevalence has remained relatively stable between 2013 and 2015, with the exception of a small increase in drug use in the last month amongst 15-year-old boys.
- Use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) was low, with 5% of 15 year olds reporting use of NPS ever, and 2%in the last month.
- Smoking prevalence amongst young people has dropped markedly over time, although there was no further change since the last survey results were published in 2013. In 2015, 2% of 13 year olds and 7% of 15 year olds were regular smokers.
- The proportion of pupils who have ever had an alcoholic drink has decreased again since 2013. Less than a third of 13-year-old pupils have ever had an alcoholic drink, while two-thirds of 15 year olds had ever had one. This is the lowest rate since the survey began. However, there has been an increase in the proportion of 13 year olds who reported being drunk in the past week.
- Overall, the vast majority of young people were not regular users of any substances in 2015. This was the case for 80% of 15 year olds and 95% of 13 year olds.