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Early school leaving and substance use

29th October 2010

A new report from NACD (National Advisory Committee on Drugs), Risk and Protection Factors for Substance Use Among Young People, is a comparative study of substance use between early school-leavers and those who stay in school.

One of the largest studies ever undertaken on substance use among young people in Ireland, it specifically explores the factors associated with substance use among those who left school early.

One important conclusion of the report is that the higher levels of substance use that are observed among early school-leavers are primarily the result of the factors underlying early school-leaving, Families (particularly parents) and educational institutions are key factors, along with peer relationships:

"Negative experiences are a crucial factor in the decision of at least some students to leave school prematurely, and, as we have seen, substance use is considerably higher among early school-leavers
than among school-attending students. Therefore, ensuring that young people have a positive experience of school, and feel supported and capable of studying, will not only keep them longer at school, but also serve as a decisive protective factor against substance use.

"This logical argument also indicates that the implementation of a range of policies with the potential to reduce early school-leaving is itself one of the most effective intervention strategies to reduce substance use among young people."

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