One in four of NI's secondary pupils have tried drugs

A report published today by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has revealed that one-in-three secondary school pupils reported having been offered drugs and one in four had tried or used an illicit drug on at least one occasion.

Authored by Robert Miller, of Queen’s University of Belfast, and Lizanne Dowds, of the University of Ulster, the report contains detailed analysis of the Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey (YPBAS) and a drugs module included in the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Omnibus Survey.

The analysis found that of the 25% of 11 to 16 year old respondents who had tried drugs, 17% stated that they were currently using at least one drug and 7% reported using drugs "frequently". Among young adults in the 16-25 age group three out of five had been offered drugs; 37% reported using a drug at least once; 23% reported current use; and 5% frequent use.

The most commonly used illicit drugs in the secondary school sample were cannabis and solvents, though cannabis users tended to be older than solvent users. While for the young adult sample, the most commonly used drugs were cannabis and ecstasy. The study revealed that multiple drug use was relatively uncommon.

Exposure to and first use of drugs, ease of access to drugs, current use of drugs and offering drugs to others are all strongly linked with age in the secondary school sample. While just 5% of 12-year-olds had used drugs, the figure rose to 33% for 16-year-olds. The link with age is also present in the young adult sample, the amount of drug use increased through late adolescence to reach a ‘plateau’ in the early twenties.

The YPBAS took place in the autumn of 2000 and included a secondary school sample of 6,297 students aged 11-16, while the Omnibus Survey sampled 640 young adults.

Commissioned by the Department’s Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit on behalf of the Northern Ireland Drugs and Alcohol Campaign, the publication is available online at www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/iau/pubs.html


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

07 December 2017
Officers Arrested In Connection With Prescription Drugs Probe
Two police officers have been arrested as part of an investigation into a number of potential offences. The offences included theft and distribution of prescription drugs. The officers were detained by Police Ombudsman investigators on Thursday morning, 07 December. They were arrested at police stations in Co Antrim.
20 June 2019
Man Jailed For Drugs Offences
A Newtownabbey man has been handed a custodial sentence for a series of drugs offences following police raids as part of a paramilitary probe. 49-year-old William Axon will serve two years imprisonment, half in custody and half on licence.
15 August 2019
Top A Level Grades Rise Across NI
As thousands of pupils across Northern Ireland opened their A level results envelope this morning, it was revealed that the amount achieving the top grades has increased slightly. A strong performance and small increases were reported across all grades, with a rise in the number of A* grades awarded, mainly due to a boost in female performances. 8.
14 August 2019
Thousands To Receive A Level Results
The wait is almost over for thousands of A Level students as their results are set to be published tomorrow, Thursday 15 August. Students and parents are advised to be prepared for all outcomes before collecting their results, with GCSE grades also due to be published next week, Thursday 22.
12 August 2019
Dog Attack Leaves Young Boy In Hospital
A young boy is receiving treatment in hospital after he was attacked by a dog in County Tyrone. Police said the incident happened in the village of Sion Mills on Sunday 11 August. The youngster was left shaken by the dog attack, which is understood to have been the second in the area in just two weeks. The dog warden has been informed.