From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Illicit Drug Use

Data on illicit drug use was collected in all waves of the Twenty-07 and 11 to 16/16+ studies.  In the 11 to 16/16+ study, there was evidence that young people's experience of (any) drug use varied between schools, after controlling for social class, deprivation and a range of other factors. Young people in lone-parent and step-families were also found to have higher rates of drug use than those in families with both birth parents. Changes in the gender patterning of illicit drug use over time were also documented, the earlier male excess among 15 year-olds in 1987 (in the Twenty-07 study) reducing considerably over the twelve year period to 1999 (the 11 to 16/16+ study). 

The extensive data collected in the Twenty-07 study from age 15 to age 30, allowed for description of the different patterns of drug use over this period, particularly those associated with 'cannabis only' compared with other drugs.  'Cannabis only' rates increased most between ages 15 and 18; 'hard' drug use increased steadily with age.  'Cannabis only' initiation between ages 18 and 23 was most likely among those from non-manual backgrounds - described as a 'student effect'.  There was considerable transitory use, particularly among 'cannabis only' users and those initiating later.  This study highlighted the need to distinguish different types of drug use and employ narrow age bands so as not to obscure potentially important relationships.



Sweeting H, West P. Drug use over the youth-adult transition in a West of Scotland cohort: prevalence, pathways and socio-demographic correlates. Addiction Research & Theory 2009;16:474-94


West P, Sweeting H, Leyland AH. School effects on pupils' health behaviours: evidence in support of the health promoting school. Research Papers in Education 2004;19:261-291


Sweeting H, West P. Young people's leisure and risk-taking behaviours: changes in gender patterning in the West of Scotland during the 1990s. Journal of Youth Studies 2003;6:391-412


Sweeting H, West P, Richards M. Teenage family life, lifestyles, and life chances: associations with family structure, conflict with parents and joint family activity. International Journal of Law, Policy & the Family 1998;12:15-46

Former Staff