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Community / Young people invited to give views on drugs and alcohol culture in Shetland

RESEARCH is being carried out with the aim of establishing what the drugs and alcohol culture is like for young people in Shetland – and what health officials and organisations can do in response.

The peer research is fully youth led, and it is being steered by the OPEN Project with help from a local alcohol and drug development official and professional researchers.

However the researchers are keen to hear from more young people, and people aged under 25 can now complete an online survey. 

The research has stemmed from a view that young people in Shetland are not adequately supported around alcohol and other drugs.

The OPEN Project said it believes drugs and alcohol use is more prevalent and being used at a younger age than in previous generations.

There is also a concern that people do not access support early enough due to being stigmatised, and that support has not evolved to meet the needs of today’s young people.

The research aims to gain a better understanding of the alcohol and other drug cultures young people are involved in, why they try them, what leads to more regular use and what would help young people to avoid problem use.

The hope is that the research findings can improve education and understanding around substance use amongst service providers, help to identify the best ways to intervene and stimulate change and investment in services and support to young people.

Target age groups range from S2-S3 to 16-20 year olds and those aged between 20 and 25.

NHS Shetland’s alcohol and drug development officer officer Wendy McConnachie is part of the research team, and she said she was “delighted” that the OPEN Project is leading the project.

“Understanding the substance use culture and what support needs young people may have, was identified as a key priority for young people, so this research has been peer led from the very outset,” she said.

“The Shetland Alcohol and Drug Partnership have identified a gap in support for young people who use substances, so this research will play an important part in assessing and responding to need.”

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