What is drug use in adolescence?

What is drug use in adolescence?

This is a fact that might surprise you and yet the figures confirm it: adolescents are consuming less and less psychoactive substances, according to a study carried out by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies (OFDT).

Unveiled this Thursday, the national survey of middle and high schools among adolescents on health and substances (EnCLASS) shows that the use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs is decreasing among adolescents. The experiments, on the other hand, always take place during the first years of college.

Fewer drug experiments between 2018 and 2022

“The results are generally encouraging,” declared Thursday Guillaume Airagnes, director of the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies (OFDT) during the presentation to the press of a survey on the use of psychoactive substances among middle and high school students.

Overall levels of substance use are down in 2022 compared to 2018, even if initiations continue to mainly take place during adolescence, according to the second edition of the EnCLASS national survey, conducted by the OFDT and in which more than 9,500 middle and high school students participated.

This second edition of the survey was carried out online and in schools between March and June 2022 among 9,566 middle and high school students. It aims to identify the school levels where alcohol, tobacco and cannabis consumption begins. The first fact to remember concerns overall levels of substance use, down in 2022 compared to 2018.

Indeed, in 2018, 60% of college students declared having experimented with alcohol, this will drop to only 43.4% in 2022.

The same goes for cigarettes and cannabis, the figures for which go from 21.2% to 11.4% and from 6.7 to 5.3% respectively.

“One in ten college students has already been drunk”

Of all the substances studied, alcohol remains the one most commonly experienced and consumed by adolescents. Moreover, in college, boys experiment with alcohol and cannabis more often than girls and on average, one in ten college students – girls or boys – have already been drunk.

We rejoice over alcohol, but everything is not settled“, summarizes for AFP Stanislas Spilka, head of the OFDT data unit. “There is significant occasional drinking, five drinks for the same occasion. Fewer people drink, but when they do, they drink this way, a behavior that remains dangerous“, he continues. According to the study, in 6th grade, 26.9% of students say they have already consumed alcohol.

“The prospect of a tobacco-free generation is almost achievable”

An initiation which, unlike tobacco, most often happens within the family, underlines Nicolas Prisse, president of the Interministerial Mission to Combat Drugs and Addictive Behaviors (Mildeca), who calls for “tackle” this problem as well. than the sale of alcohol to minors. “The results are really good, some even spectacular“, thanks in particular to prevention campaigns carried out by public authorities and professionals, “but we are not going to declare victory“, he underlined. Tobacco experimentation has also fallen significantly among middle school students, from 21.2% to 11.4% in four years, and from 53% to 34% among high school students. “The prospect of a tobacco-free generation is almost achievable“, souligne Stanislas Spilka.

Cannabis consumption, on the other hand, occurs later, with high school students more concerned by this drug than middle school students. But it is also decreasing for this age group: 22.5% of high school students say they have smoked compared to 33.1% in 2018.

Product consumption decreasing over time

From a global point of view, drug use (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis) continues to decline over time. In 2010, more than seven out of ten college students had already experimented with alcohol, a proportion which has continued to decline over the course of the surveys. The same goes for high school, with more than nine out of ten high school students having already experimented with alcohol in 2011, and three quarters having consumed it within the month. The 2022 results are 25 points lower.

Concerning tobacco, there are three times fewer middle school students today than there were twelve years ago and among high school students, daily smoking has fallen by five. On the other hand, the use of e-cigarettes by these young people is confirmed.

  • In college, daily use of e-cigarettes now concerns 1.4% of college students, a prevalence equivalent to that of daily smoking.
  • In high school, daily e-cigarette use continues to increase, going from 2.8% in 2018 to 3.8% in 2022.

Its use “continues its progression among students with, for the first time, a use that precedes that of cigarettes” concludes the OFDT.