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Youth and the schools population (EYE)

Studies of youth and the schools population

The aim of youth surveys is to obtain comparable andreliable information on: the extent and pattern of consumption of different drugs among school and youth populations; the characteristics and behaviours of users; and the attitudes of different young people towards drug use. Data presented in the schools survey tables are derived mainly from the ESPAD schools survey project and the HBSC (WHO) Schools Survey – Health behaviour in school-aged children.

Overview of the data

Table EYE-1 summarises lifetime prevalence of psychoactive substance use among 15- to 16-year-old students as self-reported in the latest available surveys (2003-2005). Table EYE-2 presents data on 17- to 18-year-old students from the latest surveys (2003-2005). Lifetime prevalence of psychoactive substance use and last month prevalence of cannabis use is shown.

Table EYE-3 aims to present lifetime prevalence of psychoactive substance use among 15- to 16-year-old students as self-reported in all available national surveys dating back to 1994.

Tables EYE-4, EYE-5, EYE-6 and EYE-7 present data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey is carried out in almost all EU countries at an interval of four years. For more methodological details, please see Methods and Definitions - Schools Surveys. All data is on students aged 15 to 16 years.

While Table EYE-4 presents data from 2003: part (i) for females and part (ii) for males, Table EYE-6 contains data from all ESPAD surveys (1995, 1999 and 2003), again organised by gender. Table EYE-5 presents data on cannabis use – lifetime, last year and last month prevalence. Part (i) presents data for all students, while part (ii) refers to males and part (iii) to females. Similarly, Table EYE-7 presents the same types of prevalence, with additional data on more intensive use of cannabis in lifetime (use of 40 or more times), early initiation (first use at age 13 or before) and perceived availability. The data is for all ESPAD surveys and organised by gender in the same order: part (i) presents data for all students, while part (ii) refers to males and part (iii) to females.

Summary points

  • Figure EYE-1 summarises available data on drug use among minors from the perspective of school surveys:
  • part (i) shows distribution of frequency of cannabis use sessions according to age at first use among French population aged 17 years old who have ever used cannabis. Two thirds of respondents who smoked cannabis for the first time before the age of 12 were daily cannabis users by the time they were 17, whereas those who did not start smoking cannabis until the age of 16-17 were mostly occasional smokers. While the time elapsed since first use may play a part, evidence from adult surveys suggests that first cannabis use at a young age is a stronger marker for daily use than the duration of time since first use.
  • part (ii) displays changes in percentage points between 1995 and 2003 in recalled use of cannabis at or before age 13 as reported by 15- to16-year-old school students. In 15- to 16-year-old school students reporting to have used cannabis, first use of the drug by age 13 remains low (typically 1%–8%), but between 1995 and 2003 early cannabis use increased in most countries.
  • part (iii) shows comparison of LTP for inhalants/volatile substances between three different school student age groups in three countries. In countries that survey under 15-year-olds, there appears to be little or no increase in the prevalence of inhalant use after age 11–12, which might suggest that experimentation with inhalants peaks before the age of 15. However, since data was available only for three countries, more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.
  • Figure EYE-2 shows data on cocaine use in young people:
  • part (i) shows comparison of lifetime prevalence of cocaine use with perceived risk among 15 to 6-year-old school students in 2003. The graph suggests an inverted relationship where, when perception of risk is high, prevalence is low. However, prevalence of LTP for use of cocaine among school students is too low to show a statistical association.
  • part (ii) shows comparison of lifetime prevalence of cocaine use and perceived availability among 15 to16-year-old school students in 2003. The graph suggests a relationship where, when perception of "easy" availability is high, prevalence is high. However, prevalence of LTP for use of cocaine among school students is too low to show a statistical association.
  • part (iii) shows prevalence of ever in lifetime use and use in last 30 days use of cocaine from surveys of dance music populations. Prevalence estimates for ever in lifetime use of cocaine derived from dance music sites and other targeted samples are commonly much higher than for use during the last 30 days and are, generally, much higher than those from general population surveys. These estimates are based on non-probability samples using a variety of methods and sampling frames and prevalence of drug use amongst the broader population of clubbers cannot be inferred.
  • Table EYE-0 lists all bibliographic references and data sources.

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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Monday, 19 March 2012