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Publication - Statistics Publication

Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS): Drug Use Report 2015

Published: 25 Oct 2016
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9781786525291

This report presents the drugs findings from the 2015 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS).

63 page PDF

3.4MB

63 page PDF

3.4MB

Contents
Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS): Drug Use Report 2015
2 Prevalence and key trends

63 page PDF

3.4MB

2 Prevalence and key trends

Summary of key changes over time

While drug use prevalence has remained stable between 2013 and 2015, with the exception of 15 year old boys, there appears to have been an increase in the availability of drugs since the last wave of the survey. There have been increases in the proportion of pupils who have been offered drugs and the proportion who say they would find it easy to obtain drugs if they wanted to.

Figure 2.1 Summary of trends in drug use between 2013 and 2015

Figure 2.1 Summary of trends in drug use between 2013 and 2015

Drug use prevalence

Pupils were provided with a list of drugs (including their commonly used street names) and asked if they had used each of them 'in the last month', 'in the last year', 'more than a year ago' or 'never'. This information was used to create an overall measure of any drug use 'in the last month', 'in the last year' (including in the last month), 'ever' (including in the last month and last year) and 'never'.

2015 FIGURES 3% of 13 year olds and 11% of 15 year olds reported using drugs in the last month (Figure 2.2). Most pupils have never used drugs at all (Figure 2.3).
TRENDS OVER TIME Drug use in the last month has been gradually decreasing since 2002. However, between 2013 and 2015, there has been a small increase in the proportion of 15 year old boys who took drugs in the month prior to the survey (from 11% in 2013 to 13% in 2015). Drug use among 13 year olds and 15 year old girls has remained stable.
GENDER DIFFERENCES 15 year old boys were more likely than 15 year old girls to have used drugs in the last month. There were no differences between 13 year old boys and girls (Figure 2.4).

Figure 2.2 Use of drugs in the last month, last year or ever, by age (2015)

Figure 2.2 Use of drugs in the last month, last year or ever, by age (2015)

Base: all 13 year olds (12,903), all 15 year olds (11,144)

Figure 2.3 Proportion of pupils who have never used drugs, by sex and age (2015)

Figure 2.3 Proportion of pupils who have never used drugs, by sex and age (2015)

Base: all 13 year olds (12,903), all 15 year olds (11,144)

Figure 2.4 Proportion of pupils who have used drugs in the last month, by sex and age (1998- 2015)

Figure 2.4 Proportion of pupils who have used drugs in the last month, by sex and age (1998- 2015)

Base: all pupils (for full base sizes please see Appendix B)

Type of drugs used

As previously noted, pupils were asked about use of a list of drugs. In the past decade, New Psychoactive Substances ( NPS), sometimes mistakenly known as 'legal highs', have become of increasing concern. These are drugs which are designed to replicate the effects of illegal substances.

Questions on the use of individual NPS have been included in the 2010 and 2013 waves of SALSUS, although the specific substances asked about have changed over time. This is in part due to the changing nature of the drugs (the chemical formulas used have changed over time as have the names). Also a number of drugs that were once categorised as NPS have been classified as illicit drugs over the years. It is, therefore, not possible to make comparisons between reported use of NPS in the 2015 survey and the 2013 survey. For a full list of the drugs categorised as NPS please see Appendix C.

This section focuses on 15 year olds as use of any drugs among 13 year olds is so low.

2015 FIGURES Cannabis was the most widely used drug; 10% of 15 year olds had used cannabis in the last month and 17% had used it ever (Figure 2.5). The use of NPS was low, particularly in comparison with cannabis.
TRENDS OVER TIME There have been no changes in the proportion of pupils using the drugs in Figure 2.5 in the last month. However, there has been an increase in the proportion of pupils who say they have ever taken ecstasy (5% in 2015, compared with 2% in 2013) or cocaine (4% in 2015, compared with 2% in 2013).
GENDER DIFFERENCES 15 year old boys were more likely than 15 year old girls to have taken each of the individual drugs in Figure 2.5 in the last month (with the exception of ecstasy where use was similar).

Figure 2.5 Types of drugs used in the last month and ever, among 15 year olds

Q. When was the last time you ever used or took any of the following…?

Figure 2.5 Types of drugs used in the last month and ever, among 15 year olds

Base: all 15 year olds pupils (11,114)

Alcohol use and drugs

2015 FIGURES Among pupils who have ever used drugs, 27% of 13 year olds and 40% of 15 year olds had been drinking alcohol the last time they had used drugs.
TRENDS OVER TIME After a substantial decrease in the simultaneous use of alcohol and drugs between 2008/2010 and 2013, there has been a slight increase across both age groups and genders between 2013 and 2015 (Figure 2.6).
GENDER DIFFERENCES Among both age groups, girls were much more likely than boys to have been drinking the last time that they used drugs.

Figure 2.6 Proportion of pupils who were drinking alcohol the last time they used drugs, by sex and age (2002-2015)

Q. The last time you used drugs, were you also drinking alcohol?

Figure 2.6 Proportion of pupils who were drinking alcohol the last time they used drugs, by sex and age (2002-2015)

Base: pupils who have ever used drugs (for full base sizes please see Appendix B)

Polydrug use

2015 FIGURES Among both 13 and 15 year olds, 16% of pupils had used more than one drug (polydrug use) the last time they had used drugs (Figure 2.7).
TRENDS OVER TIME The proportion of 15 year olds who had used more than one type of drug the last time they used drugs has increased since 2013 (11% in 2013, compared with 16% in 2015). There has been no change over time among 13 year olds.
GENDER DIFFERENCES 15 year old boys were more likely than 15 year old girls to have taken more than one type of drug the last time they used drugs (18% of 15 year olds boys, compared with 13% of 15 year old girls). There were no statistically significant differences between 13 year old boys and girls.

Figure 2.7 Proportion of pupils who used more than one drug the last time they used drugs, by sex and age (2015)

Q. The last time you used drugs, did you use more than one type of drug?

Figure 2.7 Proportion of pupils who used more than one drug the last time they used drugs, by sex and age (2015)

Base: 13 year olds who have ever used drugs (571), 15 year olds who have ever used drugs (1,881)

Effects of drug use

2015 FIGURES 43% of 15 year olds and 35% of 13 year olds who had ever taken drugs had experienced at least one negative effect as a result (in the last year).

The most common effects were having an argument, vomiting, doing something they later regretted and (among 15 year olds) trying other drugs for the first time (Figure 2.8).
TRENDS OVER TIME There was no change in the proportion of pupils who had experienced negative consequences as a result of using drugs.
GENDER DIFFERENCES There were no gender differences in the proportion who experienced any negative effects of using drugs although there were differences by gender in the effects experienced. Boys who had ever used drugs were more likely than girls who had ever used drugs to have had a fight (13% of boys, compared with 8% of girls) or have been in trouble with the police (13% of boys, compared with 9% of girls). Girls were more likely to have been sick (21% of girls, compared with 17% of boys), sent a text/email that they wish they hadn't (13% of girls, compared with 10% of boys) and to have done something they later regretted (19% of girls, compared with 16% of boys).

Figure 2.8 Proportion of those who have ever used drugs who experienced negative effects as a result (2015)

Q. In the past year, as a result of taking drugs have you…?

Figure 2.8 Proportion of those who have ever used drugs who experienced negative effects as a result (2015)

Base: 13 year olds who have ever used drugs (631), 15 year olds who have ever used drugs (1,958)

Location of drug use

2015 FIGURES Among both age groups, it was most common for pupils to have used drugs out in the street. The second most common location for drug use was in someone else's home (Figure 2.9).
TRENDS OVER TIME There were very few changes in the proportion of pupils who reported using drugs in the various locations. There were two exceptions: the proportion of 13 year olds who reported that they last took drugs at home has decreased (22% in 2013, compared with 13% in 2015) and the proportion of 15 year olds who last took drugs at someone else's home has decreased (31% in 2013, compared with 25% in 2015).
GENDER DIFFERENCES Among both age groups, boys were more likely than girls to have taken drugs out in the street (45% of boys, compared with 32% of girls). Girls were more likely than boys to have taken drugs in someone else's home (18% of boys, compared with 31% of girls).

Figure 2.9 Location of last drug use, by sex and age (2015)

Q. Where were you the last time you used drugs?

Figure 2.9 Location of last drug use, by sex and age (2015)

Base: 13 year olds who have ever used drugs (498), 15 year olds who have ever used drugs (1,775)

What pupils did with their drugs (used, sold, given away)

2015 FIGURES Over half of 13 year olds (54%) and 15 year olds (57%) gave some of their drugs to someone else, while over a third (36% of 13 year olds and 37% of 15 year olds) used it all themselves. Only a small proportion sold some of their drugs, although this was higher among 13 year olds (12%) than 15 year olds (7%).
TRENDS OVER TIME Among 13 year olds, there has been an increase in the proportion who said they gave some of their drugs away (47% in 2013, compared with 54% in 2015) and a corresponding reduction in the proportion who used it all themselves (43% in 2013, compared with 36% in 2015). Among 15 year olds there has been no change between 2013 and 2015.
GENDER DIFFERENCES Among 15 year olds, boys were more likely than girls to use all of their drugs themselves (41% of 15 year olds boys, compared with 32% of 15 year old girls), whereas girls were more likely than boys to give some of their drugs away (52% of 15 year old boys, compared with 65% of 15 year old girls). There were no differences between 13 year old boys and girls.

Figure 2.10 What 15 year old pupils did with their drugs on the last occasion that they used them (2015)

Q. The last time you used drugs, did you use them all yourself or did you sell or give some to someone else?

Figure 2.10 What 15 year old pupils did with their drugs on the last occasion that they used them (2015)

Base: 15 year olds who have ever used drugs (1,629)

Would like to stop taking drugs

2015 FIGURES 46% of 15 year olds who had ever used drugs reported that they would like to stop using them (Figure 2.11). However, only 21% of 15 year olds who use drugs once a month or more would like to stop.
TRENDS OVER TIME The proportion of 15 year olds who reported that they would like to stop using drugs has declined between 2013 and 2015 (51% in 2013, compared with 46% in 2015). There was no change among 13 year olds.
GENDER DIFFERENCES Among both age groups, girls were more likely than boys to want to stop taking drugs (56% of girls, compared with 44% of boys).

Figure 2.11 Proportion of pupils who have ever taken drugs who would like to stop taking drugs by age (2015)

Q. Do you want to stop taking drugs?

Figure 2.11 Proportion of pupils who have ever taken drugs who would like to stop taking drugs by age (2015)

Base: 13 year olds who have ever used drugs (428), 15 year olds who have ever used drugs (1,543)

Need help due to drug use

2015 FIGURES Only very small proportions of those who have used drugs felt that they needed help because of their use (8% of 13 year olds who have ever used drugs and 6% of 15 year olds who have ever used drugs).
TRENDS OVER TIME The proportion of pupils who use drugs who feel they need help has remained stable over time.
GENDER DIFFERENCES There were no differences in the proportion of boys and girls in either age group that thought they needed help due to drug use.

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