This report presents the drugs findings from the 2015 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS). The research was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Ipsos MORI Scotland.
Survey background and purpose
SALSUS is a continuation of a long established series of national surveys on smoking, drinking and drug use. These were carried out jointly in Scotland and England between 1982 and 2000, to provide a national picture of young peoples' smoking (from 1982), drinking (from 1990), and drug use (from 1998) behaviours within the context of other lifestyle, health and social factors. Since 2002, Scotland has developed its own, more tailored survey, known as SALSUS.
About the survey
SALSUS is a self-completion survey administered by teachers in a mixed ability class, under exam conditions. In the past the survey has been completed on paper, but in 2015 half of the sample completed the survey online. Fieldwork was undertaken between September 2015 and January 2016.
Figure 1 Numbers sampled and participated
The overall response rate was 53% based on class and pupil response rate  .
For full details of the methodology please see the accompanying SALSUS 2015 Technical Report.
Prevalence and key trends
Sources and availability
- 3% of 13 year olds and 11% of 15 year olds reported using drugs in the last month.
- Drug use in the last month has been gradually decreasing since 2002. However, between 2013 and 2015, there has been a small increase in the proportion of 15 year old boys who took drugs in the month prior to the survey (13% in 2015, compared with 11% in 2013).
- Cannabis was the most widely used drug; 17% of 15 year olds had ever used cannabis. 5% of 15 year olds had ever taken ecstasy, 5% had ever taken any form of NPS and 4% had ever taken cocaine.
- 27% of 13 year olds and 40% of 15 year olds had been drinking alcohol the last time they had used drugs and 16% of all pupils had used more than one drug (polydrug use) the last time they had used drugs.
- 43% of 15 year olds and 35% of 13 year olds who had ever taken drugs had experienced at least one negative effect as a result (in the last year). The most common effects were having an argument, vomiting, doing something they later regretted and (among 15 year olds) trying other drugs for the first time.
- It was most common for pupils to have used drugs out in the street or in someone else's home.
- 19% of 13 year olds and 42% of 15 year olds have ever been offered drugs. There has been an increase in the proportion who have ever been offered drugs between 2013 and 2015 (from 14% to 19% among 13 year olds and from 37% to 42% among 15 year olds).
- 15 year old pupils were most commonly offered cannabis. 37% of all 15 year olds had been offered cannabis, 17% had been offered ecstasy and 11% had been offered cocaine. 13% of 15 year olds had been offered some form of NPS.
- The most notable change over time has been in the proportion who have ever been offered ecstasy, which has increased from 9% in 2013 to 17% in 2015.
- It was most common for pupils who had ever taken drugs to get them from friends (friends of the same age or older).
Attitudes to drugs
- Almost a quarter (24%) of 15 year olds thought that it was 'ok' for someone of their age to try cannabis, while 6% thought it was 'ok' to try cocaine and 7% thought that it was 'ok' for someone their age to try sniffing glue.