MORE must be done to combat a “worrying” upward trend in the use of alcohol and drugs by teenagers, says a West Dunbartonshire charity boss.

The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey has found more than half of 13-year-olds and two-thirds of 15-year-olds had been drunk at one point in their lives, with the average age that 15-year-olds had their first drink being 13.

Just over half of 13-year-olds in West Dunbartonshire think that it is “ok” for someone their age to try alcohol, while nearly 80 per cent of 15-year-olds agreed.

The most common drinking location for a 13-year-old to consume alcohol was at their own home.

More than half of 13-year-olds and 63 per cent of 15-year-olds surveyed, who had ever had a drink, had experienced negative effects as a result of alcohol, with the most common negative consequence being doing something they regretted – or vomiting.

The teenagers were most likely to get their alcohol from home or from a relative, with a majority never trying to purchase alcohol from a shop or off licence.

Mags Mackenzie, chief executive, Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol, said the availability of alcohol and drugs – and the “worrying” increase in their use” – must be addressed.

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She added: “It also shows a worrying upward trend in drug use and mental health issues amongst young people and suggests they are struggling to cope with day to day life in West Dunbartonshire.

“We need to start addressing this not just as an alcohol service but as a community because it impacts on us all, whether we have children or not.”

She added: “Too often it is family members who purchase the alcohol for underage drinkers, working on the assumption that this is a rite of passage, or that the risk is somehow reduced if drinking is out in the open and not in secret. There’s also a casual attitude of, ‘well it never did me any harm’.

“What many don’t realise is that it did do them harm – and continues to do so today, contributing to the high numbers of cancer, heart disease and mental health problems in West Dunbartonshire and ultimately to the area’s high mortality rates.”

Ms Mackenzie also hit out at Lewis Capaldi and other celebrity-related alcohol endorsements, claiming they have high levels of influence with a young fan base.

The Scots singer, 23, took a bottle of Buckfast onstage at the Brit Awards.

Ms Mackenzie said: “His fans have taken to Twitter and Facebook to show their love for his ‘common man’ attitude, with many saying that they’ll be following his example and drinking Buckfast. It’s not unreasonable to assume that some of those fans will be underage.

“People with high levels of influence, and particularly those with a young fan base, should be made aware of this

Commenting on the figures, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Clydebank’s MP, told the Post: “Long-term trends show that smoking and drug use is falling amongst young people, but it’s disappointing to see these statistics suggesting underage drinking is on the rise."