Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2009: Public Attitudes to Drugs and Drug Use in Scotland


“This report summarises the key findings from a report exploring public attitudes towards illegal drugs and drug misuse in Scotland, based on data from the 2009 Scottish Social Attitudes survey. It focuses in particular on attitudes towards opiate misuse, and on views of potential policy responses to this. However, it also places such attitudes in the context of wider views and experiences of illegal drugs.”

Main Findings

■ Support for legalising cannabis – which increased in Scotland (as in the rest of the UK) in the late 1990s – has fallen considerably in more recent years, from 37% in 2001 to 24% in 2009. Attitudes towards prosecution for possession of cannabis for personal use also hardened between 2001 and 2009.
■ Most people said taking cocaine occasionally is wrong – 76% rated it as 4 or 5 on a scale where 5 meant ‘very seriously wrong’.
■ 45% of people agreed that ‘Most people who end up addicted to heroin have only themselves to blame’, while just 27% disagreed.
■ Around half (53%) disagreed that ‘most heroin users come from difficult backgrounds’ (29% agreed).
■ Among those in paid employment, around half (47%) said they would be ‘very’ or ‘fairly comfortable’ working alongside someone they knew had used heroin in the past, while around 1 in 5 would be uncomfortable.
■ Just a quarter (26%) said they would be comfortable with someone who was receiving help to stop using heroin moving near to them, while half (49%) would be uncomfortable.
■ There was no public consensus on what should be the top government priority for tackling heroin use in Scotland – 32% chose ‘tougher penalties for those who take heroin’, 32% ‘more help for people who want to stop using heroin’ and 28% ‘more education about drugs’.
■ Just 16% agreed that people who possess heroin for personal use should not be prosecuted (compared with 34% for cannabis).
■ Public support for providing clean needles to injecting drug users fell from 62% in 2001 to 50% in 2009.
■ Opinion on educating young people about safer drug use was split – 44% agreed that young people should be given information about how to use drugs more safely, but 40% disagreed.
■ Four out of five (80%) agreed that ‘the only real way of helping drug addicts is to get them to stop using drugs altogether’. However, 29% agreed that ‘most heroin users can never stop using drugs completely’, while 27% said they neither agreed nor disagreed or did not know.
■ 63% disagreed that ‘Someone who has been a heroin addict can never make a good parent, even if their drug problems are in the past’.
■ Around two thirds (64%) said that young children of heroin users should be placed into temporary foster care until the parents stop taking heroin. A further 1 in 5 believed the child should stay at home while the family receives help from social workers and just 8% said the child should be permanently adopted by another family.
The full report is also accessible online.

Source: http://uwsnealb.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/scottish-social-attitudes-survey-2009-public-attitudes-to-drugs-and-drug-use-in-scotland/ May 25 2010

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