2008-10-29 Presentation of a survey among the students from VII to XII class in the city of Sofia - 2008

In the period from May through June 2008 a sociological survey was carried out about the attitudes to and the use of psychoactive drugs among the students from VII to XII class in the capital. It was organized by MBMD Consulting and commissioned by the Metropolitan Municipality and the Regional Council for Drugs with the methodological support of the National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug Addictions and the organizational support of the Prevention and Information Center for the problems of drug addicts – Sofia.

The survey included 2,200 students from 7-to 12 class from the Sofia secondary and vocational schools. It was the successive one of the periodically conducted through the years surveys among the students from the city of Sofia. The previous surveys were conducted in 1993, 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2006.

The data show that 60 % of the students in the capital smoke, one third of them- every day. The number of the smokers is greater among the girls– 66 %, and among the boys it is– 58 %. In the majority of cases the first cigarette is smoked when the students are under 16, but 1/3 of the students do this even earlier- at the age of 10-11 years. The data about the consumption of alcohol among the students show that 88 % of the students drink alcohol, 73 % -at least once a month.  30 % of the girls and  40 per cent of the boys have more than one drink (a bottle/a can of beer, a glass of wine or 50 g of hard drink) daily. 64 % of the girls and  71 % of the boys have got drunk.  One fourth of the boys and ten per cent of the girls have got drunk more than 15 times. Beer is the most often used alcohol and immediately after it come the hard drinks, and next are the wine and the cocktails.

Every fifth student has used opiates, and every tenth student has used tranquilizers. 10 per cent admit that they have used a combination of opiates, tranquilizers and other pills with alcohol.

Every second student in the capital has been offered drugs. 3 %  have been forced to take it. The knowledge about the different drugs is extensive–more than ¾ of the students know what marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine is.   The most often used drug is marijuana– 28 % of the students from the capital admit that they have tried it, 14 % have tried hashish and other forms of cannabis and every tenth student has tried amphetamine and ecstasy. The number of students who consider that the use of drugs is normal is considerably greater- 41 % accept the use of ecstasy, 40 per cent – the use of amphetamine, 35 % - the use of hashish, and 28 per cent- the use of marijuana.

Three fourths of the students consider that the drugs are a problem for the country, 68 % - for the city, 52 % - for the school where they study.

The heroin use is subject to most criticism. 82% think that the use of heroin on a regular basis is a major health hazard. The same thing regarding ecstasy is claimed by 73 %, as well as 62 % for marijuana. Contrariwise, the survey registered a comparatively higher tolerance to the use of alcohol – 52 per cent  assess that the use of alcohol on a regular basis is rather hazardous for health.

The students’ knowledge about drugs has been gained almost entirely from the feature films or from the stories of friends and relatives. The most commonly indicated reason for drug use is the seeking of pleasure, curiosity, the necessity to be admitted to the group or the necessity to break away from reality. More strict laws against the drug dealers and the drug users, as well as the open public discussion of these problems will help reduce the impact of drugs.

Some basic tendencies registered. Cigarette smoking

Around 2/3 of the students in Sofia (64.7 %) have smoked cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, which is  10 points less than what was registered in 2000, 2004 and 2006; nearly half of the students (45.2 %) have smoked during the last  30 days, which is lower than the levels  for 2000 and 2006 but higher than that for  2004 .

Every third of the students (33.8 %) smokes at the time of the survey (at least one cigarette a day), which is nearly at the level of the preceding years (34-36 %), but it could be the beginning of a tendency of reduction; nearly half of them (16.2 %, or every sixth student) smoke an average of more than 10 cigarettes a day, which is a lower level than for the years 2000, 2004 and 2006.

Approximately every fifth (20.9 %) of the students surveyed has smoked cigarettes for the first time at the age of up to 12 years including, which is nearly the same level as with the previous surveys (20-22 %).

Alcohol drinking

Every sixth (17.6 %) of the students drinks alcohol on a daily basis or at least every other day, which is nearly the same as in 2006(20.0 %) and definitely more than in 2000 and 2004 (10-11 %).

The number of the students who have drunk usually 5 or more standard drinks over the last 30 days in the days when they have drunk alcohol continues to grow. In comparison to 2000 this percentage has risen from 2.8 to 8.3 %. This means that the drinking spree among the students is growing, which was registered by the international survey ESPAD as well. In the Bulgarian part it is representative for the students from the whole of the country.

Approximately every fifth student  (20.7 %) regularly gets drunk according to his/her confessions, and a tendency is seen of a gradual increase of this number (19.2% in 2004 and 16.7 % in 2006 г.); nearly ¾ (72.8 %) have got drunk at least once in their lifetime, which is approximately  the level from the last surveys in 2004 and 2006 (72-78 %).

A little more than ¼ of the students surveyed  (28.4 %) drank their first independent drink at the age under 12 years which forms a tendency of reducing this number  ( 40.6 % in 2004 and 33.9 % in 2006).

Illicit drug use

A little more than 1/3 of the students surveyed (35.4 %) have used some illicit drug at least once in their lifetime, which is less than for 2004  (37.3 %) and a little more than for 2006 (33.5 %) – the data from the last two surveys as if form a tendency of reducing or at least of stabilizing the number of the students experimenting with drugs.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug (31.4 %), followed by the group of the stimulants– amphetamines (10.9 %), ecstasy (9.7 %), cocaine (8.3 %), hallucinogenic mushrooms (6.9 %), etc.

Practically for all the illicit drugs there is a tendency of increased use over the last four years (with certain fluctuations for cannabis and the other opiates except for heroine).

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