Drug use amongst young people is more than double official estimates, a major study has revealed.
The study, conducted by Bristol University, found that 36.7 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 admitted to taking drugs last year – compared to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate of 16.4 per cent.
The ONS also reported that 40.6 per cent of young people have taken an illegal drug at least once. However, the Bristol study put this figure at 62.8 per cent – nearly two thirds of respondents.
The research looked at 14,500 children born in the Avon area between 1991 and 1992. Data is collected from annual postal questionnaires completed every year by participants.
University researchers believe that their long term relationship with participants – instead of the ONS one-off, face to face interviews – explains the significant gap.
Dr Lindsey Hines, one of the study’s senior researchers, said that accurate figures are “vital for developing effective policy and treatment programmes” in response to drug use.
Last year, students at Bristol University were given kits to test drugs before taking them in a scheme endorsed by both staff and student leaders.
The ‘harm reduction’ system run by The Drop, part of the Bristol Drugs Project, allows students to determine what they are taking before they use illegal drugs.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Communications Ciarán Kelly said the move “places young, impressionable students at risk of addiction, poor mental health, or any of the other innumerable consequences of drug-taking”.