Pupils who drink, smoke and take drugs more likely to be unhappy, data shows

School pupils who have recently smoked, drunk alcohol and taken drugs are more likely to be unhappy, new figures have revealed.

The latest data from NHS Digital found that 51% of young people aged 11 to 15 who had recently drunk alcohol, smoked cigarettes and taken drugs experienced low levels of happiness.

This compared to 36% who had done only one of these things and 22% who had not done any of them recently.

The report also found that the likelihood of pupils reporting a high level of anxiety increased with the combination of such habits, with 38% of those who had smoked, drunk and taken drugs reporting they were very anxious.

According to the Smoking, Drinking And Drug Use Among Young People in England 2018 report, published on Tuesday, 2% of the 13,664 year 7 to 11 pupils questioned had recently smoked, drunk alcohol and taken drugs, 11% had done only one of these things and 84% had done none of them.

The number of pupils that reported having ever smoked fell to its lowest rate on record at 16%, down from 19% in 2016 and 49% in 1996.

The report also found that 17% of pupils said that they usually drank alcohol at least once a month in 2018 and 6% saying they drank at least once a week.

NHS Digital said that drinking varied with age with 38% of 15-year-olds saying they usually drank once a month compared to 2% of 11-year-olds.

Pupils from more affluent families were more likely to have drunk alcohol in the last week, with 13% of those from the most affluent families having done so compared to 7% in the least affluent families.

The proportion of current smokers who said they managed to buy cigarettes from shops halved from 46% in 2014 to 23% in 2018.

A quarter of pupils reported they had ever used e-cigarettes in 2018 – the same as in 2016 – with regular e-cigarette use at 6%.

The 2018 survey was conducted by Ipsos Mori, and questioned 13,664 year 7 to 11 pupils, mostly aged 11 to 15, from 193 schools across England, between September 2018 and February 2019.

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