Drugs costing youth their innocence
MARIJUANA is the illicit drug of choice for teenagers, but alcohol remains a clear favourite among substances, according to a new survey.
The 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey questioned 30,000 people aged 12 and older about their drug use and attitudes.
It found that while 96 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 had never smoked ? with 100 cigarettes being the definition for 'smoking' ? 7.6 per cent had given other drugs a go.
As teenagers got older, they increased their bad habits, with 16.5 per cent of people aged 16 to 17 smoking cigarettes compared to 21 per cent having dabbled with drugs.
And as the 18 to 19 year age group increased their cigarette smoking to 26 per cent, their drug use reached one in three.
For all teenagers, the drug of choice by far was marijuana, with speed and ecstasy gaining in popularity at the age of 18, with an 8.8 per cent use, still far behind marijuana at 26.5 per cent for that age group.
But alcohol was vastly more popular than any other substance, with a quarter of teens aged 12 to 15 having had a full glass of alcohol, increasing dramatically to 80 per cent by the age of 16-17 and almost nine in 10 having had a full glass of alcohol by the age of 19.
The report found the average age to first try marijuana was 14 years and nine months.
And while curiousity was the strongest influence on first using an illicit drug, at just over 80 per cent, peer pressure was also a strong influence at around 50 per cent, followed by the thrill of doing something exciting at around one in three.