The APC Blog
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
News from the French Press
According to an annual report, teens report a decrease in their use of tobacco and marijuana. Contrarily, cocaine (though it remains on the fringe) increases in distribution.
Jean-Michel Costes, director of the French monitoring center for drugs and drug addiction, presents the results of the 2008 ESCAPAD survey. Conducted with 40,000 French seventeen-year-olds, the survey allows us to examine the consumption habits of the nation’s youth.
What trends did you notice in the habits of teenagers?
We noticed little change, not even a decline in regular usage of marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. The report is generally positive despite some worrisome subjects, such as occasional drunkenness, which saw a slight increase in frequency from last year.
How can you explain this increase?
Pleasure and ease of use are the most widespread motives for consuming alcohol and marijuana. While health risks and a fear of dependence justify a non-use of tobacco or marijuana, alcohol consumption has no such fears attached to it. Seen as less addictive and less harmful to overall health than smoking of any kind, alcohol suffers from an erroneous reputation that worries professionals.
What does the report have to say about hard drugs?
For similar reasons, cocaine and stimulants have become more popular. This phenomenon, observed over many years, affects just a small number of the total sample (3%). Associated with parties, cocaine benefits from a positive image among teens. The decrease in price and increase in availability of this substance has made it a more attractive product.
What other trends were worrisome?
The consumption of rare products (GHB, LSD) is on the rise and heroin has crossed over the 1% threshold in experimentation. A sort of fashion trend has been observed in the realm of occasional experimentation, with one drug replacing another in popularity. Accordingly, consumption of ecstasy and hallucinogenic mushrooms has been steadily decreasing since 2005, replaced by inhalants such as poppers (which are more and more frequently found on the internet).
What factors can we use to understand these trends in consumption?
Sociological aspects have a very important role in understanding the practices of adolescents. The report reveals the impact of academic experience and family situation on use of psychoactive drugs. Effectively, use is considerably higher among teens who live outside the home or whose parents do not live together. The trend is the same among students who have dropped out of school or an apprenticeship. Except for daily tobacco addiction, the socio-professional categories of parents have the most sway in determining their child’s drug usage: it is much more common among the moderately wealthy.
Interview conducted, condensed, and edited by Delphine Bouchard.
Edited and translated by Dara Kagan.
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