With all the bad news we hear about drugs and alcohol in the UK, it is refreshing to hear good news every now and again. Such is the case with the results of a brand-new survey that shows today’s teenagers are more likely to be sober than those of a decade ago. In addition to drinking less, teens appear to be taking drugs and engaging in careless sexual behaviours less frequently.
The survey, conducted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre polled 5,000 students regarding their attitudes toward smoking, alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex. Official figures show that only 9% of the kids had consumed alcohol in the seven-day period prior to participating in the survey. Ten years ago, that number was 25%. The survey further showed:
- 61% of respondents said they had never tried alcohol; 39% responded similarly in 2003
- 15% admitted to using illicit drugs as compared to 33% in 2003
- sharp declines in teenage pregnancies and abortions have also been observed.
Officials are pleased with the results of this year’s survey. They credit a number of contributing factors including use of social media, changing social attitudes toward smoking and drinking, and an overall focus on healthy lifestyles. Interestingly, they also cite the increasing population of religiously conservative migrants whose children do not normally participate in the targeted behaviours.
According to public health minister Jane Ellison, the trend among young people relating to drinking, smoking, and teenage pregnancy are ‘very encouraging’. She told The Telegraph, “Young people who adopt healthy lifestyles early on can use them as a building block for success, using that resilience to get on in life.”
Keeping It Going
The news from the Health and Social Care Information Centre is very encouraging indeed. Now the question is whether we can keep it going or not. If the numbers are correct, and there is no reason to believe they are not, it offers proof that we can change outcomes by changing attitudes. Kids growing up with unhealthy attitudes toward alcohol and drugs do not have to be a foregone conclusion.
Even as we look for ways to more effectively treat those who are already substance abusers, we should concentrate equally hard on continuing efforts to change attitudes among young people before they begin drinking or taking drugs. Unfortunately, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Youth are constantly bombarded by messages portraying certain types of adult behaviours as necessary to be truly considered grown-up. If we can change those messages, we can also change the attitudes that go with them.
Addiction Helper firmly believes in the idea of preventing substance abuse before it ever has a chance to get started. We have seen, far too often, how substance abusers never realise they have a problem until it is too late. Then they have no other choice but to enrol in a rehab programme hoping that they can learn to successfully overcome.
If you already find yourself in trouble with drugs or alcohol, prevention is no longer something you are concerned about. You want help getting out of the prison you now find yourself in. Addiction Helper can assist you in that endeavour. We are an independent organisation offering free evaluations, advice and referral services throughout the UK.
We assist addicts and their families by way of a 24-hour recovery helpline staffed by experienced and caring counsellors. We can help you find the treatment you need to overcome alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and more. Call us if you are ready to get well. Inform yourself about children and students with addictions in our student addiction guide.