Less alcohol, more drugs among young Swedes

VISBY The proportion of Swedish teenagers 15-16 years old who use illicit drugs increase again. Smoking as well. However, fewer teens drink alcohol, according to new data.

Approximately 5 300 pupils in 300 classes have participated in this year’s survey in Sweden, made by Federation of alcohol and drug awareness, CAN. The study was presented at a seminar this week in Gotland.

Results show a trend break for illicit drugs. The proportion of primary school pupils last spring, compared with last year, who said that they had tried drugs, has increased from five to seven per cent among girls and from seven to nine per cent among boys. Cannabis is the main illicit drug in Sweden.

However, in an international comparison, these figures are low. The Czech Republic has the highest figure in Europe with over 45 per cent. In Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark more than every fourth pupil has tried drugs, according to the Espad study for Europe 2007.

The CAN school-study also shows alcohol continues to decline among Swedish teenagers. Figures show that 42 per cent of boys and 35 per cent of girls say no to alcohol.

– We have never in the 38-year old history of surveys had so few drinkers among young people, says Thomas Hvitfeldt, researcher at CAN who presented the study, to Drugnews.

Tobacco smoking increase slightly. This year, 30 percent of the girls and 23 percent of the boys stated that they smoke. One reason that more boys smoke may be due to snuff (snus) becoming more expensive. Strikingly nearly half of these teenagers can buy their own tobacco in spite of the 18-year age limit.

• What is the reason that drugs increases among teenagers in Sweden again?
-Its probably part of a global trend but also due to an increased availability at home and that the price of drugs has gone down during the last decade, says Thomas Hvitfeldt.

He stresses that focus on drug issues must be kept alive; perhaps it hasn’t been sufficiently in recent years.