Irish teens biggest binge drinkers

By Deborah Condon

Irish school children get drunk more often than almost all of their European counterparts, a new report has found.

According to the 2003 ESPAD (European Schools Project on Alcohol and other Drugs) Report, 30% of Irish 16 year olds were drunk 10 or more times in the previous 12 months. In Europe, only one other country had a higher rate of drunkenness amongst teens and that was Denmark.

Furthermore when it came to frequent episodes of binge drinking - this was defined as three or more times within the previous 30 days - Ireland ranked first among European students, with one-third of boys and girls admitting the practise.

More girls than boys reported regular use of alcohol, making Ireland the only country where girls outdo boys in the drink stakes. Since 1999, girls have increased their consumption of alcopops and spirits, while beer continues to be the most popular drink among boys.

Problems experienced by teenagers as a result of their own drinking meanwhile were twice the European average for individual problems such as damage to objects or clothing, loss of money or valuables, accident/injury and delinquency problems such as scuffles or fights.

The report found that there had been a decrease in the number of 16 year olds who reported having their last drinking occasion in a pub, from 39% in 1999 to 24% in 2003. However there had been an increase in the number of girls who reported their last drinking occasion as occurring on the street, in a park or on the beach, from 9% to 12%.

The report also found that Irish students were almost twice as likely to have used marijuana than the European average. However cigarette smoking among 16 year olds had dropped by about 10%.

This is the third report of the ESPAD project, which began in 1994. Altogether 35 countries took part, with the Irish sample consisting of 2,407 young people born in 1987. The Irish data collection was managed by Dr Mark Morgan of St Patrick's College in Dublin.


John(johnwilliams) - 17/12/2004 21:34

I have become so cynical about 'reports', 'studies' etc that I am not sure whether or nor not to believe any figures on any subject, especially healthcare. On any subject of which I have some knowledge I can say for sure that many of these studies are either the opinions of the authors, have an ulterior motive such as to garner additional funding etc, or have an ideological bias.In the case of the above study, the figures may or may not be true. I will keep an open mind on them.

Anonymous - 22/12/2004 23:58

I think the Government & Others wish to keep our people/kids drunk. Its cheep and so easy to buy.

Jojo - 26/10/2005 21:47

I agree that some teenagers binge drink but with the way journalists are going on, parents nwadays have such a lack of trust in their teenage children, its not fair that all teenagers are stereotyped as being 'binge drinkers' these teenagers that are taking part in binge drinking in fields, parks etc are the exception...not the rule. But thats just my opinion...

Albert(UGG77192) - 30/10/2008 14:40

We´re in 2008. The new social style world wide is girls drinking more than boys for the first time ever. It is not just in Ireland. In my opinion as a researcher, young woman shouldn´t drink anything, and young man should drink just a beer, but not spirits. Beer is the only healthy alcoholic beverage, because it contains vitamins and less than 6 % alc (Guinness 4.2) while wine contains 13.5% and spirits 30 to 40%

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