Research Article

Knowledge and experience of young people regarding drug abuse, 1969-89.

BMJ 1990; 300 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.300.6717.99 (Published 13 January 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;300:99
  1. J D Wright,
  2. L Pearl
  1. Community Long Stay Unit, Clevelands, Leasowes, Wolverhampton.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE--To establish a baseline of knowledge to plan an effective health education programme in schools. The survey was repeated at five year intervals from 1969 to 1989. DESIGN--To preserve consistency, the same anonymous questionnaire, which was confidential to the research workers, was used throughout. SETTING--Three secondary schools in Wolverhampton in different parts of the town and representing different social groups. SUBJECTS--Sample sizes ranged from 471 fourth year pupils (aged 14 to 15) in 1969 to 540 in 1984 and 380 in 1989, the decrease being due mainly to the falling birth rate. There were slightly more girls than boys, and the pupils covered the whole range of academic ability. RESULTS--Over the 20 years the proportion of pupils who knew someone taking drugs more than doubled from 15% (71) to 31% (117) and the proportion who had been offered drugs almost quadrupled from 5% (24) to 19% (72). The changes taking place over the past five years were characterised by an increased knowledge about drugs and the first mention of "crack," a purified form of cocaine, and "ecstasy" (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Peer influence continued to be given as the prime reason for taking drugs. Over the 20 years, though less often mentioned in 1989, television and newspapers remained the most common source of information. CONCLUSIONS--These results suggest the need for responsible coverage by the mass media and for more effective health and social education programmes to prevent the spread of drug misuse.