British teenage girls are being exposed to drugs earlier than boys and experimenting with a wider range of narcotics from a younger age, reveals a new survey.
The report by a Crew 2000, an Edinburgh-based drugs advice centre found that girls and young women are more likely than boys to have taken almost every recreational drug, including Ecstasy, cocaine, LSD and amphetamines.
The annual survey looked at 18 drugs, and found two-thirds of girls had accessed more drugs than males.
A quarter of females questioned admitted taking speed and Ecstasy, almost a half had used cannabis and more than one in five had tried cocaine.
Ten per cent had taken the dance drug ketamine, 18 per cent had tried hallucinogenic mushrooms and more than 55 per cent had smoked.
The figures for males were lower, with about 15 per cent admitting to taking amphetamines, Ecstasy, cocaine and magic mushrooms, 6.9 per cent trying ketamine, 45 per cent using cannabis and less than a third smoking.
Researchers said the difference could be explained by girls and young women being exposed to drugs culture from an earlier age, both through older boyfriends and from being allowed into nightclubs.
"Girls mature at an earlier age and are subjected to a range of role models from celebrities like Kate Moss to other adult influences around them in everyday life," The Scotsman quoted Carla Ellis, the project's operation manager, as saying.
"They are likely to have boyfriends who are a couple of years older and are able to get into clubs where they can access drugs. They reach a stage, earlier than boys, where they want to be mature and be accepted as part of that older group. Peer pressure can have an incredibly powerful effect on girls, contributing to the feeling that nothing can happen to them. Behaving as they do is a way of sticking two fingers up at society," she added.