The social survey, Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2009, provides national estimates of the proportions of young people aged 11 to 15 who have smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs. The report considers the attitude of school children towards smoking, drinking and drug use, and explores the links between other factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, truancy and exclusion.

As well as collecting data on smoking, drinking and drug use, the 2009 survey focused on gathering detailed information about drug use, including:

  • the circumstances of drug use
  • pupils’ reactions to taking drugs
  • reasons for refusing drugs
  • drug dependence
  • the attitudes of pupils and their families to drug use
  • the impact of school lessons and other sources of information about drugs.

Key findings from the report:

  • there has been a decline in drug use by 11- to 15-year-olds since 2001
  • cannabis is the most commonly-used drug by 11- to 15-year-olds
  • most young people who take drugs do so infrequently
  • smoking has fallen out of favour with 11- to 15-year-olds since the 1990s
  • not all young people drink alcohol, but those who do are likely to drink significant amounts.

The report, which is available for download from this page, was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, the Home Office and the Department. Researchers contacted a sample of 7674 pupils, in Years 7 to 11, from 247 schools in England in Autumn 2009.