Young Persons’ Substance Use Survey


In this section, you will find information about the survey the Amy Winehouse Foundation are conducting in schools across England as part of our Resilience Programme. We’re very excited about the project, which will generate results that could shape future service provision for young people across the country.

The main aim of this study is to identify current trends in substance use. This information can then demonstrate the necessity for high quality drug, alcohol and low level mental health issues education to schools, commissioners and local and central government officials, and be used to develop more targeted and effective support and treatment services in the future.

The survey has received full ethical approval.


The Amy Winehouse Foundation Young Persons’ Substance Use Survey is an online questionnaire. We hope to find out about the types of alcohol and drugs that young people, aged 11 to 18 years, are using across England.

Young people will be asked questions on the following:

  • What types of substances they might use (if any)
  • How they feel about different substances
  • Their school life
  • Their life outside school
  • Things that can influence young people to try different substances

In addition, we will be asking young people if they would like to take part in a group discussion about the survey, which is called a focus group. For example, we are interested in your experience of filling in the survey and what you thought about the questions in the survey. The results of these discussions will be used to improve the survey. We are also interested in listening to any particular concerns you have about substance use in general, for example, what substances young people are using in your school or area.

Individual interviews will also be conducted with young people where they will have the opportunity to talk about their own experiences of substance use in more detail, or to talk about any area of substance use they are especially interested in or concerned about.


If you are a teacher, parent or a school not already involved in the Resilience Programme you can download more information here.

If you are a young person aged 11-18 years old, and your school is taking part please see the information below.  If your school is not yet taking part and you would like it to be involved, please contact us at

In order to take part we will ask for your permission before you complete the survey.  If you are under 18 years old, we will send out information about the study to your parents or guardians and will ask permission for you to take part. You will also receive an information sheet explaining more about the study and what it involves. You can then decide for yourself if you want to take part.

The survey will be completed during school time in a lesson, and takes about 30-40 minutes to complete. It is completed online using a PC, laptop or tablet computer. We have chosen to use an online survey to save paper and to be more environmentally friendly.

The survey is designed so that if you are not using substances, you will only complete the sections of the survey that are relevant to you. You will also have the option to skip any question that you do not wish to answer.

While the survey is being completed, you will be supervised by a member of the study team or a teacher, who can answer any questions that you have.

All answers to the questionnaire will be private and confidential, which means that we won’t give the information to anyone else unless we feel that you or another person may be at risk of harm. You do not have to provide any identifiable information about yourself when completing the survey – it is completely anonymous. Teachers and other school staff do not see your answers. Your school will receive a report detailing what substances are being used, to make it easier for them to provide the most appropriate education around alcohol and drugs. However, schools will not be able to identify any individual student from this report.

When we have completed the study, the findings of the survey and focus groups will be written up and your school will receive a copy of this.

Taking part in the survey means that you are contributing to a very valuable piece of research that will help professionals working with young people who use substances. Your contributions will also help schools to provide more up to date and relevant education about substances.

You will have the opportunity to have your opinions about the survey listened to if you choose to take part in the focus groups or interviews, and you will be able to talk in more depth about any aspect of substance use that particularly concerns or interests you.

Your safety and well being is a very high priority for us. We hope that completing the survey will be an interesting and enjoyable experience. However, if completing the survey raises any worries or concerns, there will be someone available to listen and provide support.

At the end of the survey, you will also receive a leaflet with details of organisations that provide advice and information about substances, and there will also be staff in your school that can help, such as counsellors.


The study was funded initially to take place in Resilience Programme schools. However, the survey is now open to all schools across England and if you are interested in being involved, please contact us for further information.

If you are a Resilience Programme school, you will be contacted by a member of the research team inviting you to take part.  A member of the research team will then visit (or telephone) the school at a convenient time to discuss the study in more detail, and to agree on a date to participate.

We are aiming to conduct the survey in schools during the autumn term of 2016 and spring term of 2017.

For more information download the information leaflet


Project Principal Investigator – Dr Grace Ofori-Attah
Dr Ofori-Attah is a psychiatrist working for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, and an Honorary Clinical Lecturer in the Faculty of Brain Sciences at University College London (UCL). She has worked with the Amy Winehouse Foundation for three years, advising on the content and structure of the resilience programme, particularly in its initial stages. She studied preclinical medicine at the University of Cambridge, where she was awarded the Anne Jemima Clough Prize and The Chadburn Scholarship for obtaining a first class, before transferring to the University of Oxford to complete her clinical studies. She has worked in various hospitals across London as a medical doctor, and spent a year as an Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. During her psychiatry training Dr Ofori-Attah worked in two substance misuse clinics in West London. She gained experience in the management of club drug disorders at one of the UK’s first dedicated Club Drug Clinics, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in 2012. That year she was shortlisted for a Clinical Care award at the Imperial College Annual Education Excellence Conference for a presentation on GBL psychosis. The following year she was selected to present a piece on club drugs entitled ‘High Society – an Integrated Approach to Care’ at the European Congress of Psychiatry in France. Dr Ofori-Attah is keen to raise awareness of the harm caused by legal highs and in 2014, she contributed to a Royal College report called ‘One new drug a week: Why novel psychoactive substances and club drugs need a different response from UK treatment providers’, advising policy makers about the need for changes in current service provision. Dr Ofori-Attah was awarded a National Institute for Health Research CLAHRC leadership fellowship on the strength of the work she has done on legal highs and for the Amy Winehouse Foundation to date.

Project Supervisor and Clinical Lead – Dr Owen Bowden-Jones

Consultant in Addiction Psychiatry, Central and North West London

Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College in the Division of Brain Science

Chair of NEPTUNE (Novel Psychoactive Treatment UK Network) Project

Former Chair of the Faculty of Addictions at the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2010-2014)

Dr Bowden-Jones has nearly 20 years of clinical experience in substance misuse disorders and particular expertise in ‘club drugs’ including novel psychoactive substances (so called ‘legal highs’). He has completed an MSc in Clinical Psychiatric Research (Imperial College London) and has experience in questionnaire based surveys in vulnerable populations including those with severe and enduring mental health problems and substance misuse problems. He has participated in a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research including being Principal Investigator.

Project Information Technology Specialist – Dr Sean Radford
Following several years working as a surgeon and emergency room doctor in the NHS, Dr. Radford elected to pursue a career in healthcare IT.  Dr. Radford has worked across a multitude of sectors, including Healthcare, Finance, Telecommunications and the design and delivery of high quality systems to high profile clients.  More recently, Dr Radford has supported voluntary and community sector and not for profit organisations to collect outcome evaluation data through the use of online and mobile technologies.

Two projects relevant to drug and alcohol misuse treatment settings are:

The Street Talk Project:  The Street Talk project was funded by the Crime Directorate in the Home Office and Community Safety Unit, who endorsed the project as a clear demonstration of effective practice. Two national voluntary and community sector organisations that provide drug treatment and mentoring opportunities partnered to provide a psychosocial intervention to young people in the community who were at risk for problematic substance use and anti-social behaviour. An innovative mobile app, accessible through hand held devices was developed and supported by Dr Sean Radford. The technology was ground breaking because it combined intervention delivery and integrated evaluation, over a long term basis, whilst providing therapists and researchers with access to real time data about young people. The use of technology demonstrated a significant cost saving to typical evaluations by combining intervention delivery, integrated behaviour screening and outcome monitoring in addition to providing an opportunity for young people to access support and engage in an evaluation through the use of a mobile app, at times convenient to them, often outside of traditional office hours. Addaction and Mentor UK are currently in the process of applying for funds to conduct a randomised control trial, involving three European countries and the continued use of the mobile app technology.

The London Joint Working Group for Substance Misuse and Hepatitis C and London Borough NHS Trusts Project:  The LJWG is working with Dr Sean Radford who will develop the mobile technology to enable hepatology departments and NHS funded substance misuse treatment services to conduct enhanced assessments and to share testing, referral and hepatitis C treatment data via an integrated pathway of care. The hypothesised impact of this work will be the increase in treatment compliance and enhanced risk assessment and risk management amongst patients with a history of injecting drug use. These patients are typically vulnerable to risky behaviours (including high hepatitis C transmission prevalence), poor attendance and poor compliance. Thus, integrated working practice, access to data and alerting multi-disciplinary team members to changes in patient status within the hospital and the wider community team via the use of technology is currently underway. With a relevant background in medicine and in patient record systems, Dr Radford has been able to actively contribute to the technology and the clinical application of this work. Key members of the LJWG and the NHS hospitals and units that will engage in this project include (but are not limited to) Professor David Nutt and Professor William Rosenberg based at Imperial College London and the University College London. It is anticipated that this innovative approach will enhance the hepatitis C treatment delivery landscape whilst also supporting some impact upon a reduction in epidemiological risk and transmission rates through increased treatment compliance.

Project Research Associate – Dr Nicky Knights
Dr Knights is a research associate working for the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Her PhD is in the area of developmental psychopathology and looked at how severe and chronic bullying during adolescence might increase risk for psychosocial problems, both in the short and long term. This involved working closely with young people in schools across the UK. Her MSc project, which received a distinction, also looked at the long term effects of adolescent bullying. Before joining the Amy Winehouse Foundation, she worked as a research fellow in the field of developmental psychopathology for the University of Southampton, Developmental Brain and Behaviour Laboratory (DBBL) on the ‘English and Romanian Adoptees’ study. This looked at the impact of childhood deprivation on early adult functioning, and involved conducting psychiatric assessments with young people and investigating risk behaviour, which included alcohol and drug use. Prior to this, she was employed as a research fellow at the University of Leeds on the ‘Systemic Therapy for At Risk Teens’ study, which involved working with young people with offending histories and substance abuse problems, who were at risk of being removed from the family home. Nicky has also worked for the University of Birmingham, Alcohol, Drugs and Addictions Research Group on a study looking at the development and maintenance of heavy drinking in the community. Prior to this, she was employed by the Probation Service as part of the Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) team and worked with individuals serving community sentences, whose offending behaviour was related to substance abuse. She has also worked in a clinical capacity as an assistant clinical psychologist, managing her own caseload under supervision, which involved providing psychological therapy to patients with addiction problems. Nicky is very interested in how young people cope with traumatic experiences like bullying and resilience processes in young people, and how qualitative methodologies can be used to enable understanding in this area.

Project Research Associate – Dr Tuba Mazhari
Dr Mazhari is an Epidemiologist. She has previously provided tuition in a range of subjects including English, Mathematics, Science and Psychology, to young people aged 6-18.  Tuba was awarded a studentship to undertake an MSc in Social Epidemiology and PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. She has worked as a research assistant for UCL’s Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology. Her undergraduate degree in psychology, for which she obtained a first class honours, is from City University London.

Tuba has conducted research using data from the National Survey for Health and Development, National Child Development Survey and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. She has employed several types of statistical analysis in SPSS and STATA, including multi-level modelling and multiple imputation.

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