Girls use narcotics to diet and keep 'healthy': Research shows fastest growing group of drug takers is female

TEENAGE GIRLS are, for the first time, taking as many drugs as boys. Many girls now see certain narcotics as a 'healthy' way to keep slim and fit.

Unpublished research carried out in Greater Manchester and Merseyside schools last autumn shows a disturbing new trend of growing drug abuse among young women.

The survey reveals that girls aged 15 and 16 are experimenting with 'hard' drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, as well as 'softer' illegal substances, such as a cannabis and LSD, as much as males of the same age.

Girls were also found to drink as much as boys in single boozing sessions, although their weekly alcohol consumption was less. Twice as many girls smoke as boys.

The study, by Manchester University, disclosed last week that about half the 15- and 16-year-old pupils questioned had taken drugs. About a quarter are considered to be regular drug users. This reflects the growing use of narcotics by youngsters.

However, researchers were surprised to discover that the fastest growing group of drug users is now female.

Anonymous questionnaires were completed by 752 pupils at eight schools. The sample was a representative cross-section of north-west England in terms of class and ethnic origin. Trick questions were included to catch out liars and 'rogue' answers were excluded to maintain accuracy.

The study found that there was no statistical difference between boys and girls in the consumption of all drugs. The most popular drug is cannabis, which 40 per cent have tried; 25 per cent have taken LSD; 22 per cent poppers - a type of solvent containing amyl nitrate; 15 per cent speed or amphetamine sulphate; 13 per cent solvents; 12 per cent magic mushrooms; 7 per cent Ecstacy; 5 per cent tranquillisers; 4 per cent cocaine; and 3 per cent heroin.

About three-quarters of the girls had been offered drugs, compared with two- thirds of the boys.

This is the second year Professor Howard Parker and Fiona Measham at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work have carried out the study. In the first year, 36 per cent of the children, then aged 14 and 15, had tried drugs, compared with 47 per cent in the most recent study. In the first year under 1 per cent had tried heroin or cocaine, and only 13 per cent had taken LSD.

Ms Measham said: 'We are seeing the spiralling use of drugs and drink by young women from all social classes. For the first time young women are more than matching boys for exposure to drugs and general risk taking.

'Health and fitness is seen as part of the attraction of some of the drugs, especially those used in raves. They act as an appetite represser and enable the user to dance for hours.

'Young women are also attracted to pill popping rather than injecting, which is seen as an unfashionable and dangerous 1980s activity.'

The low cost of drugs such as LSD, which costs about pounds 2 for one dose, and Ecstacy, which costs about pounds 15 a tablet, is also part of their attraction.

While previous studies have shown a rise in the number of girls using drugs, it has usually been of the softer variety, such as solvents. A Mori poll based on 4,436 interviews with 16- to 19-year-olds in 1990 found 37 per cent of boys had tried drugs compared with 26 per cent of girls. A study by Exeter University in 1991 found the gap had narrowed, but teenage boys were still taking more narcotics than girls.

The new study also found that boys and girls drink, on average, nine units of alcohol - four and a half pints of lager or nine whiskies - per session. Young women are attracted to designer drinks such as strong bottled ciders and lagers, aperitifs, fortified wines and novelty cocktails. A third of drinkers had more than 10 units per session.

Researchers believe drink manufacturers are deliberately trying to attract young woman with products that stress their high alcohol content and designer image.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine