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Youth charity seeks to break stigma

A leading digital youth charity is aiming to break the stigma around seeking support for drug use. 

A survey from charity The Mix and YouGov interviewed 2,000 16-24 year olds up and down the UK. The study has shown that 1 in 5 young people who use drugs have done so as a way of coping with emotional stress or poor mental health. Yet only 14% of young people who experienced problems with their drug and alcohol use accessed professional support. 

The Mix survey also shows that over 1 in 10 (10.8%) young people aged 16 to 25 have taken a class A drug in the past year, which equates to over 855,000 young people. This is higher than the numbers found in the 2020 Crime Survey for England and Wales, which found only 7.4% of 16–24-year-olds have taken a class A drug in the last 12 months.

Stigma appears to be a factor in young people not seeking support, with 42% of those interviewed agreeing that shame around drug use would discourage them from getting help if their drug use became problematic.

Almost half of young people believe that there is not enough support available to help young people with concerns about drug or alcohol abuse. The Mix is releasing this data to raise awareness of the problem, to call for better support services, and to decrease stigma around getting help for issues with drugs and alcohol.

Zoe Bailie, Deputy CEO of The Mix, commented:

This important new research shows that young people simply aren’t getting the support they need for drug and alcohol use and addiction. It’s crucial that we break down the stigma around this issue and empower under 25s to overcome the challenges they face. We know young people will experiment with drugs, but they should have all the information they need to keep themselves safe. The Mix is here to provide that information. We are calling for media, schools and universities to face this issue head on and signpost young people to support services such as ours, to reduce harm and ultimately save lives.

One interviewee for the survey added:

Drug problems can be really difficult to face but it does not make you a bad person. If you are struggling, then you should never have to feel alone. If someone you know is struggling, don’t judge.

You can find out more about The Mix on their site.