This November, there have been several new UK studies released which indicate a frightening trend in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, which affects young people and their safety.
One survey of over 8000 young drivers (17-24 years old) carried out by Auto Trader, which is a UK motoring magazine and website, showed a dangerous trend towards driving under the influence of either drink, drugs or both.
In today’s binge drinking and drug abuse culture amongst young people it is unfortunately no surprise that as many as 17% of those surveyed admitted regular use of Cannabis (Marijuana), more alarmingly 12% frequently use the dangerous class A drug Cocaine, and 10% revealed regular use of Ecstasy. However, the most considerable risk comes from upwards of 10% admitting that they regularly drove their vehicles whilst being under the influence of drink or drugs.
When questioned regarding driving under the influence, over 40% felt “fine” to drive their vehicles after abusing drugs and 31% found it acceptable to drive after drinking alcohol. A considerable proportion were unaware of the legal drink driving limits for alcohol consumption and consequently 8% had already had a road traffic accident while under the influence, with a further 11% admitting a near miss.
Based upon road traffic accident statistics, over a third of deaths on the UK’s roads involve young people aged 25 or under, so this is obviously a serious issue. This equates to the death or serious injury of a young driver or passenger every hour on average across the UK.
Other recent statistics include the number of younger teenagers using drink or drugs. In fact, 1 in 7 people admitted to Accident and Emergency departments across the UK last year were under 14 – a total of over 2239 cases. Many people have blamed a surge in advertising for alcoholic drinks between 3 and 5pm which corresponds to when children have arrived home from school. Of course, the government spends around £3.7 million on anti-drinking and alcohol awareness campaigning, but this is dwarfed by the estimated £200 million spent on advertising by the drinks industry.
The average UK starting age of Heroin use in many towns and cities is just 15 years old, so we have an obvious duty to deter young people from getting inadvertently caught up in drug addiction through misguided experimentation.
So what can be done about this?
Well, many parents are unaware that home drug test kits and alcohol test kits are easily obtainable and can be used to act as a strong deterrent. They can also be used by teenagers as a valid reason why they can’t take drugs when put under peer pressure. Being able to say “Sorry, I can’t take drugs because I get tested at home” really can make a difference.
The responsible use of home drug testing products (with open communication and co-operation) can play a pivotal role in keeping children and teenagers safe and can help to mend relationships and build trust. Some people ask whether testing removes trust from a relationship, but we firmly believe that the substance abuse has already done that in many instances and home testing can be used to rebuild trust.