Young Europeans are less informed about the effects and risks of drugs than just a few years ago, according to Eurobarometer survey
While they widely use the internet to gather knowledge, the survey showed that compared to 2011, respondents are less likely to have received such information from other sources, particularly from media campaigns and school prevention programs.
More than a quarter of young people (29%) say they have not been informed at all in the past year about the effects and risks of so-called ‘legal highs’ – currently legal substances that imitate the effects of illegal drugs. This comes at a time when the number of young people saying they have used legal highs has risen to 8% from 5% in 2011.
More than 13,000 citizens aged 15-24 across the EU were interviewed for the ‘Young People and Drugs’ survey. According to studies by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, drug experimentation often starts in the school years, and it is estimated that one in four 15-16 year-olds have used an illicit drug.
In recent years, the use of legal highs has become increasingly popular, and the European Commission is working to strengthen the EU’s ability to protect young people by reducing the availability of harmful substances as part of an overall drug policy regulatory framework.
The European Commission has used funds from five EU financial programs to support a number of projects aimed at, among others, boosting detection and identification of new psychoactive substances and the risks associated with them.
A number of projects dealt with spreading knowledge and advice through means such as websites, telephone hotlines and sending volunteers to big festivals. Other projects fostered co-operation and the exchange of information among national prosecutors and law enforcement authorities, for example.