DRUGS: Alcopops worsen abuse by young

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The Independent Online
Fruit-flavoured "alcopops" have encouraged young drinkers to consume relatively high levels of alcohol without appreciating its strength, school inspectors claim today.

A study of drug education provided by youth services reveals that the misuse of drugs, including alcohol, is not an isolated phenomenon, but is becoming "a way of life".

Younger drinkers have been attracted to alcoholic fruit juices and lemonades, many of which have innocuous-sounding labels such as "Vanilla" and "Blackcurrant" but have an alcohol content as high as 12 per cent, says the report from the schools watchdog, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). One 16-year-old girl was found on a beach unconscious after drinking two bottles of an alcopop.

The report says alcohol is the most frequently misused drug among teenagers, but reveals cannabis is also "commonly used by a large proportion of young people", in some cases to "wind down" after taking other drugs such as amphetamines.

Ecstasy and LSD are popular, though in Southwark in south London some youngsters said ecstasy was seen as "old fashioned" by those who had moved on to crack and heroin.

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