Appendix 1 to Pathways to Problems report

Document type
West, Patrick ; Sweeting, Helen
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Date of publication
13 September 2006
Substance Misuse, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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This report investigates patterns of substance use among young people over the youth-adult transition.  It presents data on basic frequencies of different levels of smoking, drinking and drug use at each age, represents the movement in and out of using each substance over the course of the study and represents combined substance use at each age and between ages.  The report uses analyses of a cohort who were resident in and around Glasgow city when first interviewed at age 15 (in 1987), with follow up interviews at ages 18, 23 and 30. Data from this cohort, especially that relating to the earlier period (ages 15–18) has been extensively analysed, with a particular focus on class and gender relationships to health and health behaviours, and associations between family life and unemployment and health. The evidence demonstrates multiple individual pathways of substance use and also points to the importance of particular events and contexts for patterns of use. The results challenge several assumptions about substance use in the post-school period, notably:

  • that uptake is confined to younger ages
  • that substance use, particularly drugs, is invariably related to adverse socioeconomic circumstances or family life
  • that pathways through substance use follow an unremitting and set pattern (for example smoking to cannabis to 'hard' drugs)

This report is an appendix to the Pathways to Problems report (2006) on the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs by young people in the UK.