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Are drug users deviant?

This report, called The Substance of Youth, concludes that young illicit drug users are generally no different to other people of similar age and background. The exceptions are 'problem users', taken to mean people who make use of a service such as a needle exchange, and a very few isolated pockets of people who fulfil the junkie image.

Information was collected by means of 100 in-depth interviews and a survey, selected to be representative of the UK. These took place between February and April 1997.

How drug users compare with non users:


Trust and respect their families to a similar extent to other teenagers.

Are more independent and less introverted than those who do not use drugs.

Decide to use drugs themselves rather than through pressure.


Not significantly more rebellious than others except in their attitudes towards police.


Lead active lives, without being dominated by drug usage.


Have a reasonably clear understanding of the risks involved.

Life outlook

Optimistic about their futures and capable of thinking ahead.


Disapprove of behaviour they regard as being out of control.

No less moral than those who do not use drugs.

Similar moral and political concerns to non-users.


The report is by Demos published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in November 1997. It may be ordered via their web site index
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