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Decline but no fall? New millennium trends in young people's use of illegal and illicit drugs in Britain

Decline but no fall? New millennium trends in young people's use of illegal and illicit drugs in... Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe trends since 2000 in young people's use of illegal/illicit drugs in Britain, and to place these into a longer‐term context alongside recent theorising on youthful drug taking. The implications for health educators are to be examined. Design/methodology/approach – A selective narrative review of published data and theory forms the approach. Findings – A steady rise in the prevalence of youthful drug taking in Britain from the 1960s was followed by a sharper rise from 1990 to an all‐time peak in the middle of that decade. Rates have not quite returned to this peak since, and from 2000 onwards have declined steadily, though from a historically high level. By 2006/2007, roughly one in five younger adolescents, and one in four older adolescents and young adults, has taken an illegal/illicit drug in the past year. In spite of changes over the past two decades, youthful drug taking in Britain over this period is characterised by considerable continuity. Gender and socio‐economic differences in drug taking over this period have remained roughly stable, but changes may be under way in relation to differences by ethnic background. Practical implications – In Britain, levels of youthful drug taking remain at historically relatively high levels, with recent decreases at least in part probably due to a cohort effect of the drug‐involved generation who were teenagers in the 1990s moving into their 30s. Drugs education is not the likely cause of the post‐2000 downward trend. Drug “journeys” and the pursuit of pleasure are important considerations for health educators who aim their messages at the majority of young people whose drug use is not seriously problematic, and who are proactive when they do experience problems. Originality/value – This paper calls for health educators also to focus on the majority of youthful drug use that is relatively unproblematic for young people. These young people require information as they make adjustments in their behaviour, and their needs may sometimes be ignored in favour of those with problematic drug use. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Health Education Emerald Publishing

Decline but no fall? New millennium trends in young people's use of illegal and illicit drugs in Britain

Health Education , Volume 108 (3): 18 – Apr 18, 2008

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References (103)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0965-4283
DOI
10.1108/09654280810867079
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe trends since 2000 in young people's use of illegal/illicit drugs in Britain, and to place these into a longer‐term context alongside recent theorising on youthful drug taking. The implications for health educators are to be examined. Design/methodology/approach – A selective narrative review of published data and theory forms the approach. Findings – A steady rise in the prevalence of youthful drug taking in Britain from the 1960s was followed by a sharper rise from 1990 to an all‐time peak in the middle of that decade. Rates have not quite returned to this peak since, and from 2000 onwards have declined steadily, though from a historically high level. By 2006/2007, roughly one in five younger adolescents, and one in four older adolescents and young adults, has taken an illegal/illicit drug in the past year. In spite of changes over the past two decades, youthful drug taking in Britain over this period is characterised by considerable continuity. Gender and socio‐economic differences in drug taking over this period have remained roughly stable, but changes may be under way in relation to differences by ethnic background. Practical implications – In Britain, levels of youthful drug taking remain at historically relatively high levels, with recent decreases at least in part probably due to a cohort effect of the drug‐involved generation who were teenagers in the 1990s moving into their 30s. Drugs education is not the likely cause of the post‐2000 downward trend. Drug “journeys” and the pursuit of pleasure are important considerations for health educators who aim their messages at the majority of young people whose drug use is not seriously problematic, and who are proactive when they do experience problems. Originality/value – This paper calls for health educators also to focus on the majority of youthful drug use that is relatively unproblematic for young people. These young people require information as they make adjustments in their behaviour, and their needs may sometimes be ignored in favour of those with problematic drug use.

Journal

Health EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 18, 2008

Keywords: Health education; Drugs; Education

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