Is drug abuse a big issue in Britain? How common is the problem? Why do young people choose to take drugs, and is there something they can do to avoid it? In this essay I am going to try to answer these questions and discuss some topics about drug abuse among British youths.
Statistics from 2008 show that illegal drug use among British teenagers is a larger issue in Britain than it is in the rest of Europe. In Europe, the percentage of students under the age of 13 who has tried cannabis is 4 percent. In the UK, however, the percentage is 13. According to surveys from British schools, 25 percent of 11-15 year-old school children have tried drugs, and as much as 10 percent are using illegal drugs regularly. These are shocking numbers, and even experts struggle to find out why the British has so many drug related problems compared to other countries.
There are several reasons why teenagers choose to take drugs. One of these reasons is peer pressure. Many young people feel insecure. Therefore, drugs can be a way to be accepted in a group. Drug abuse can be viewed as tough and rebellious, and therefore a way to gain respect and admiration from others. Some people however, use drugs as a way to escape from stress or depression. For these people, illegal drug use is the only way to relax and escape the thoughts about the tough feelings and problems in life. In addition, some teenagers take drugs out of curiosity, simply for the fun of experimenting and finding out what it is like.
Even though drug abuse may seem like an easy solution to the problems above, it will only create greater problems. As most of us know, drugs are very damaging to the brain, and one can easily get addicted, especially when it is used over time. Even a “mild” drug such as cannabis, which is the most popular drug in Britain, can be highly addictive. Regular use over time can in fact take over a person’s life, so that life ends up with consisting of two factors: doing drugs and thinking about/obtaining drugs. This does of course not happen in every case, but most people will agree that drug abuse always leads to problems.
The most essential thing one can to do avoid drug addiction is to never start. Therefore it is important to know that illegal drug use is never a good solution to your problems. People mainly use drugs because they want to change something about their life, and drugs may seem like a quick fix to a boring, stressful or lonely life situation, or even just something that is intriguing. Thankfully, there are many other methods to make life better, such as talking about the difficult feelings, starting a healthier lifestyle, trying to meet new people, learning something new and enjoying life by listening to music, eating good food and being out in the nature -sunlight does in fact have a great impact on our general wellbeing.
Fortunately, the numbers of young illegal drug users has decreased. In 2009-2010, 20 percent of people between 16 and 24 had used one or more illegal drug, which is a decrease from 1996, when the percentage was 29,7. According to the same research, the young people who had used class A drugs (such as heroin and cocaine) has dropped from 8.1 to 7,3 percent. 16 percent of those who took place in this survey, the NHS Information Centre's annual survey of drug misuse in England, had used cannabis. This is also a decrease, from when it was earlier 18,7 percent. The drug misuse among children has decreased even more. From 2001 to 2010 the percentage of children between 11 and 15 who has used illegal drugs went from 29 to 22 percent. 8,9% of the pupils said that they have used cannabis in 2010. This is a big decrease from 2001, when the percentage was 13,4.
To sum up, drug abuse is indeed a large issue in Britain, but the rates are decreasing. Hopefully, this will continue, so that British youths will not have to face drug-related problems. There are many things individual people can do to avoid these problems. Most important of all is to never start; just say no.
(I also watched the documentary series “How Drugs Work” by BBC on www.tv.nrk.no a couple of months ago. The link is no longer available.)