The number of secondary school pupils who report taking drugs has fallen from 24 per cent to 18 per cent since 2018, according to the latest figures from NHS Digital. However, while the number of young people smoking has fallen to 3 per cent, 9 per cent now report vaping, compared to 6 per cent in 2018.
The Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England 2021 report is based on a survey of more than 9,000 secondary school pupils aged 11-15 across almost 120 schools. Cannabis remains the drug that pupils were most likely to have taken, with 6 per cent saying they’d taken it last year – a 2 per cent decrease from the 2018 figure. The number who reported taking class A substances has remained consistently around 2-3 per cent since 2010, while the number who drank alcohol has remained at 6 per cent since the 2018 survey. The rate of current e-cigarette use among 15-year-old girls had more than doubled since 2018, however, to 21 per cent.
Of the young people who reported taking drugs on more than one occasion, just under 20 per cent said they’d done so alone on the most recent occasion, up from 11 per cent in 2018. Low levels of life satisfaction were reported by almost 60 per cent of the young people who had recently smoked, drank and taken drugs, compared to under 20 per cent of those who hadn’t.