Fewer children using drugs and alcohol

Almost half of young people aged between 11 and 15 have never had a proper alcoholic drink, six out of ten have never smoked and drug-taking prevalence has dropped, according to a government national school survey.

The survey found that, in 2006, 21% of those in this age group drank alcohol in the previous week, dropping from 26% in 2001, while almost half of the young people surveyed said that they had never had a proper alcoholic drink.

The survey also found that 61% of pupils said that they had never smoked, a rise from 47% in 1982.

Drug prevalence among children is down from last year with 17% admitting to taking drugs in the last year - a drop from 2% from 2005.

Nine per cent had taken drugs in the last month, a drop of 2% on the proportion who had done so in 2005.

The number who said that they usually took drugs once a month or more often was 4%, a drop from 6% in 2005.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said that the survey showed "encouraging results". She said: "This demonstrates that our policies are having a real impact in terms of tackling substance misuse amongst young people."

However, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Sandra Gidley said: "Why are almost a quarter of our children drinking regularly at such a shockingly young age?

"Although there is some good news in this survey, ministers are only scratching the surface of the problem. Rising numbers of young people are suffering from alcohol-related diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, because so many start drinking before they've even left school."


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