One third of teens drink every week, reveals study

AN ALARMING number of drink-fuelled teenagers are getting into trouble with the gardaí and fighting, according to a report detailing the effects of alcohol on the lives of young people.

The study found nearly 20% of boys and 12% of girls were involved in fights after drink. And 18% of males and 7% of females got into trouble with gardaí.

The findings show one in three teens drink every week. Among 15-year-olds, 12% of males and 20% of females said they drank once a week or more. The average age for the first drink was 13. The research, Young People, Alcohol and Drugs, carried out among 460 15 to 19-year-olds in the south and south-east, found:

62% of teens drink regularly (once a month or more) — similar to the European average.

51% binge drink regularly — compared with the European average of 41%.

50% have taken an illegal drug at least once in their lives — more than twice the European average (22%).

The research was carried out by Dr Gary O’Reilly of the school of psychology in UCD and Dr Deirdre Palmer of HSE South.

“A high number of young people, 13%, drinking alcohol are getting into physical fights or damaging property. This has consequences for society, as well as the damage caused by heavy use of alcohol,” said Dr O’Reilly.

The report found 38% of young people drinking suffered consequences, compared with 11% of illegal drug users. Of these:

20% of drinkers were involved in arguments (4% of illegal drug users).

18% of drinkers were in trouble at home (3%).

13% were in physical fights (2%).

13% suffered an accident or injury as a result (13%).

13% damaged property (3%).

10% were in trouble with gardaí (3%).

7% said drinking affected their performance at school (7%).

The report said females were drinking more frequently and drinking more spirits than males. The report also said 14% of young people reported regular cannabis use.

“The substances of real concern are high levels of alcohol... and high cannabis use,” said Dr O’Reilly.

Reacting, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny called for a ban on “supershots” of spirits. “I feel the supershots of pure alcohol should be banned. In a lot of cases where young girls in particular consume these things, they really go over the threshold of intoxication.”


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