Teens are forgoing drink, drugs and smoking for more wholesome pursuits and healthier lifestyles, new research suggests.

But charities warned of being overly optimistic about the new statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, because figures show hundreds of thousands of 11 to 15-year-olds are still drinking regularly.

Researchers, who surveyed 6,500 young teens, found that drug-taking among secondary school children fell by 12% in the last decade, and one in four 11 to 15-year-olds had smoked at least once, the lowest proportion since the survey began in 1982.

teen drinking

The number of teenagers drinking underage has dropped in the last ten years

In 2001, almost two thirds of teens said they had tried alcohol but this number fell to 45% in 2011. One in six teens had taken drugs in 2011, but in 2001 around a third of them reported that they had.

Teens who tried drugs for the first time when relatively young were more likely to have sniffed substances like glue, but those around 14 or 15 were most likely to have used cannabis.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: "The report shows that pupils appear to be leading an increasingly clean-living lifestyle and are less likely to take drugs as well as cigarettes and alcohol.

Siobhan McCann, head of campaigns and communications at Drinkaware, said the results were "encouraging" but added: "The report still shows there are 360,000 young people who reported drinking alcohol in the last week alone.

Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the charity Family Lives, added: "Many parents will still be struggling when their teenager begins to experiment.

"Equipping parents with the tools to ensure they can talk effectively with their children is the best way of preventing children experimenting at an early age and can prevent later problems in teenage and adult life."