Research suggests that student drug use is substantially higher than that of the general population and while the UK Government’s current Drug Strategy emphasises the importance of PSHE in preventing young people from becoming drug users, there is a lack of research investigating the longer-term effectiveness of drug prevention education, and students’ views using qualitative methods. The purpose of this paper is to gain a holistic understanding into university students’ lived experiences of recreational class A drug taking and the drug education taught in English secondary schools.
Five interviews with university students were undertaken and thematically analysed using an ideographic case study approach alongside a qualitative content analysis of publicly available drug education resources and policy documents.
The normalisation of drug taking at university and social micro-pressures to assimilate group norms were key contributing factors to participants’ drug use. While the content of drug education in PSHE is grounded in theory, its implementation is not.
This study extends upon existing theories of normalisation of drug use at university through the concept of micro-pressures to offer an explanation of the process by which students assimilate group norms through the implicit threat of not fitting in.
Scott, H.M. and Oliver, S. (2022), "University students’ experiences of recreational class a drug taking and perspectives on personal, social and health education (PSHE) drug education", Safer Communities, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 85-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/SC-05-2021-0018
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