Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 11:49 UK

Teen drink and drug use falling

Teenager drinking
More than 80% of 15 year olds have drunk alcohol

Rates of drug taking, smoking and drinking are falling among young teenagers, a survey shows.

In 2007, 25% of the 8,000 11 to 15-year-olds surveyed by the NHS Information Centre had tried drugs at least once compared with 29% in 2001.

The proportion who have never drunk alcohol rose from 39% in 2003 to 46% in 2007,and there was a fall in the number who had drunk in the past week.

The government said the figures showed health messages were getting through.

With 3.1 million 11 to 15-year-olds in England, the survey suggests that around 640,000 were likely to have drunk alcohol in the past seven days and 300,000 were likely to have taken drugs.

We will continue our work through FRANK, the alcohol strategy and our smoking campaigns to push the numbers down further
Department of Health spokesman

The number of teenagers who have tried smoking has also dropped from 53% in 1982 to 33% in 2007, the figures showed.

Around 6% of pupils smoke at least once a week, which is lower than at any time since pupils' smoking was first measured.

Drug use

In 2007, 17% of pupils said they had taken drugs in the past year and 10% in the past month.

Cannabis is the most common drug used by 11 to 15-year-olds followed by sniffing glue, gas, aerosols or solvents.

Although the number of teenagers who drink has fallen in recent years, there have been fluctuations in how much they are drinking.

In 2007, those who drank in the last week consumed an average of 12.7 units, equivalent to over six pints of normal strength beer or nearly one and a half bottles of wine, slightly down on last year.

Overall, by the age of 15, 88% of pupils will have drunk alcohol, tried drugs or smoked.

A Department of Health spokesman said the figures showed messages about the dangers of smoking are getting through to young people.

He added: "Since its launch five years ago, 30 million has been spent to provide friendly, confidential advice to young people about illegal drugs through FRANK.

"We will continue our work through FRANK, the alcohol strategy and our smoking campaigns to push the numbers down further."

Liberal Democrat Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said: "While the fall in children experimenting with drugs is welcome, the percentage of children trying drugs is still shockingly high."

Teen drinking 'remains a worry'
31 Aug 07 |  Health

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