UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Sunday 23 June 2024
 11.4°C   WSW Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / MSP’s concern at above-average youth alcohol and other drug use figures

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart says the Scottish Government should bolster education to “help break the cycle” after new figures on young local people using drink, drugs, vapes and tobacco were higher than the national average.

The figures were presented in Shetland’s Integrated Children’s Services Plan for 2022/23, which was discussed at a council meeting on Monday.

A health and wellbeing census showed that 15.5 per cent of respondents in secondary two and four said they had taken illegal drugs, ‘legal highs’, solvents or prescription drugs not prescribed to them – with the Scottish average being 9.6 per cent.

When it came to drinking alcohol once a week or more, 14.4 per cent of S2 and S4 respondents said they did, compared to 7.4 per cent in Scotland.

Rates for smoking tobacco and using vapes were also above average.

However the census did place Shetland higher than average when young people were asked about the statement ‘my life is just right’.

At Monday’s meeting Lerwick South councillor Neil Pearson said the figures were a “huge concern”.

“It’s clear that we as a community need to be doing a lot more to tackle these issues,” he said. “This is at every level, not just education.”

Shetland MSP Wishart also described the figures as “worrying”.

“Action to keep illegal drugs out of Shetland is important,” she told Shetland News.

“Dogs Against Drugs should be supported to help stem the accessibility of illegal drugs that are getting into the hands of our young people.

“There must also be action to stop products such as vapes being packaged to appeal to young people as some form of lifestyle accessory.

“Cigarettes are far less visible to buy than they were 30 years ago and this has helped reverse smoking trends.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“Peer pressure can feel overwhelming when you are just starting to find your way in the world. The Scottish Government should be looking to bolster education to help break the cycle.”

The report also paid tribute to the work being undertaken by peer education organisation OPEN in researching drug and alcohol culture amongst young people win Shetland.

In response to the figures, a representative for OPEN said the statistics were “really interesting, and looks at what people are taking”.

“The Alcohol and Other Drugs Peer Research carried out provides insight into why young people are using alcohol and other drugs,” they added.

SIC children’s services director Helen Budge said work has started on having peer researchers going into schools.

She said she wanted to recognise what children’s services could do to appropriately inform young people around the “consequences and to give them information around any kind of usage”.

Budge also said the information in the report will help future planning.

She added that the report as a whole showed “how well the different partners work together in Shetland to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support our young folk”.

The report said that “being able to improve outcomes around these focus areas is reliant not only on specialist services but on the day-to-day interactions of children, young people and families being effective at identifying, responding and supporting to their specific needs”.

It highlighted how a range of training was offered in 2022/23.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.