The attitudes of young people to the non-use or use of drugs and to drugs education and prevention strategies
The study explores the attitudes of young people in the later years of their secondary education to the non-use or use of drugs and to the drugs education and prevention strategies that they have experienced. It takes particular account of the views of the majority of young people who do not use drugs other than the occasional use of alcohol. It highlights the problems experienced by some young people as a result of their legal use of tobacco. To contextualise the study there is an exploration of the drugs education and prevention environment, and an in-depth examination of the policies of central and local government and voluntary organisations. In particular it looks at the influence of the preventionist and harm reductionist perspectives and their influence on policy and practice. The subject is considered to be particularly complex and sensitive in nature, and these aspects have major implications for any study of it, especially among young people. The methodology and research approach used questionnaires self completed by young people, which provided both quantitative and qualitative databases. In addition, in-depth recorded interviews with individual young people and the recorded dialogue between young people were also used, which produced extensive qualitative data. The findings highlight major inadequacies in our knowledge of young people's non-use or use of drugs and the motivations underlying this. This in turn contributes to major deficiencies in drug education and prevention provision, with widespread dissatisfaction of young people and of some practitioners as a result. It makes recommendations for the improvement of drugs education and prevention strategies in general, and in relation to tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use in particular.