The latest Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use (SALSUS) National Report was published in December 2011. The report is part of a long established series of national surveys on smoking, drinking and drug use. Information has been collected in Scotland from 1982 on smoking, 1990 on drinking and since 1998 on drug use. The latest survey was carried out during the autumn term of 2010 with a sample of over 37,000 pupils from S2 and S4 classes from across Scotland. The report provides information on the prevalence of smoking, drinking and drug use, the frequency of substance misuse, sources of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and pupils’ attitudes to substance misuse
Key findings include:
44% of 13 year olds and 77% of 15 year olds have ever had an alcoholic drink (compared with 52% in 2008 for 13 year olds, and 82% in 2008 for 15 year olds).
Increase in the proportion of pupils who had drunk in the last week from 11% in 2008 to 14% in 2010 among 13 year olds and from 31% in 2008 to 34% in 2010 among 15 year olds.
Longer term trends – The proportion of pupils drinking in the week before the survey increased between 1990 and 2002, then there was a steady decline until 2008. However, in 2010 this trend has ended and consumption has slightly increased.
Most commonly consumed drinks among both age groups were beer, lager, cider, spirits and alcopops.
54% of 13 year olds who have ever had alcohol report having been drunk at least once, compared with 76% of 15 year old.
Sources of purchased alcohol have changed considerably over time, with friends/ relatives by far the most common source.
Since 2008, there has been a decrease in the proportion of both age groups usually drinking outside.
Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “The number of young teenagers regularly drinking is concerning not only because of the potential damage to their health, but because of the risky situations they put themselves in when drunk”.