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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Drug Education: An Entitlement For All
A report to Government by the Advisory Group on Drug and Alcohol Education 2008

1 Many young people in this country drink alcohol during their teenage years; a smaller proportion takes up smoking. Fewer still take illegal drugs and most of those who do experiment do not go on to develop drug misuse problems. We do know, however, that those young people who do drink are consuming more than ever before and that recent reductions in smoking have levelled off. We also know that when young people do take illegal drugs there can be serious
consequences for their own health and well-being, and wider negative impacts on their families and local community.

2 The Drug and Alcohol Advisory Group believe that Government is right to focus action on reducing the levels of misuse of drugs, alcohol and volatile substances by young people; and reducing the harm experienced by children, families and communities as a result of drug misuse. We also believe that the responsibility for drug prevention should be shared between Government, families, schools, colleges, practitioners, the wider community and the media – each has a role to play in increasing the numbers of young people on the path to success.

3 There is much to be encouraged by in drug prevention. Overall illegal drug use by young people is declining and fewer young people are now reporting being offered drugs. But some problems remain. Class A drug use has been static since 2001 with around 4 per cent of 11-15 year olds saying they had used a class A drug in the last year. Despite improvements in the past 10 years, drug and alcohol education in schools, colleges and non-formal settings could still be better.

4 In light of the Children’s Plan commitment to review the effectiveness of drug and alcohol education, the Drug and Alcohol Advisory Group was established to examine the available evidence of the effectiveness of information and education from all the sources available to young people: including parents, schools, colleges, the non-formal sector, the wider media and Government.

5 In addition to universal sources of information and education, we looked in detail at what schools, colleges and non-formal education providers were doing to support young people at risk of drug abuse, those who were already misusing drugs and those whose parents were engaged in drug misuse. Of particular interest to the Advisory Group was the concern that parents feel about their ability to protect their children and the interface between mainstream services such as schools and targeted support services.

6 Following the analysis of the evidence, and using the knowledge and expertise of the range of professionals who were members of the Advisory Group, we have developed a series of recommendations (summarised below and set out in more detail in Chapter 2) which we urge the Government to act upon.

Read Full Report (PDF)