Cocaine awareness campaign


You don't know what you're getting with cocaine - that's the key message at the heart of the Scottish Government's biggest ever initiative to raise awareness among 18 to 24 year olds of the health risks around cocaine use.

The Know the Score campaign's four-week programme of Cocaine Awareness Weekends was officially launched today at Element, one of 140 pubs and clubs across Scotland which will be visited by field marketing staff highlighting the dangers of using the drug.

Revellers in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Stirling, Falkirk, Hamilton, Motherwell, Paisley, Perth and St Andrews will be targeted with campaign messages on Friday and Saturday nights between 12 November and 4 December.

The Cocaine Awareness Weekend activity will be bolstered by a hard-hitting £269,000 Know the Score radio, cinema and online advertising campaign which will run for five weeks from Friday 12 November in the run-up to the Christmas and Hogmanay party season.

Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said:

"The key message of this campaign is clear - you don't know what you're getting when you take cocaine. Cocaine is not a harmless drug; the risks to health of individuals and communities are as serious as they are significant and that's why this festive period we are taking the message across Scotland to highlight the dangers.

"I want everyone, including young people, to have the best information, advice and support available to ensure they all Know the Score. That's why we are working with local partners, the licensed trade and young people themselves to get information out there in a way that's credible, meaningful and supportive of healthy lifestyle choices."

The campaign aims to correct popular misconceptions about cocaine which is now the second most used drug amongst young people.1

Each Cocaine Awareness Weekend aims to educate young people about the numerous side effects of cocaine, using the message you don't know what you're getting with cocaine.

It highlights the numerous health risks that can be associated with cocaine use, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, chest pain, anxiety and paranoia along with the increased chance of a heart attack or stroke.

Each venue participating in the weekends will be displaying campaign materials outlining the dangers, and field marketing staff will talk to young people, seeking their opinions and experiences of the drug.

The campaign has the backing of community Alcohol and Drug Partnerships across the country, along with the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the National Union of Students, and Young Scot.

Speaking at the Cocaine Awareness Weekends launch event, Nick Smith, Manager, Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said:

"Young people often see cocaine as a harmless, even glamorous drug, a problem which is compounded by its falling cost and increased levels of availability across the country.

"Cocaine use can lead to some very serious health problems, in addition to the danger of becoming addicted to the drug.

"I welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to educating young people on the dangers of cocaine through the Cocaine Awareness Weekends and the wider Know the Score campaign."

For more information on Know the Score and Cocaine Awareness Weekends, visit or call 0800 587 587 9.

Background note

The Cocaine Awareness Weekends will take place at the following locations:

  • 12/13 November Edinburgh
  • 19/20 November Glasgow
  • 19/20 November Stirling
  • 20 November Falkirk
  • 26/27 November Dundee
  • 26 November Hamilton
  • 27 November Motherwell
  • 27 November Paisley
  • 3/4 December Aberdeen
  • 3/4 December Inverness
  • 3/4 December Perth
  • 3 December St Andrews

1 2008-09 findings from Scottish Government's Scottish Crime and Justice Survey suggest that cocaine use is higher amongst younger age groups, with 7.8 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 reporting that they had used cocaine in the last year in comparison to 2.7 per cenet of all adults aged 16 and over.1