And they’re drinking less than many of their counterparts in Europe according to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs’ latest four-yearly survey of teenagers from 15 to 16 years-of-age.
The latest study, just published, surveyed 96,043 teenagers in schools across 35 countries to find substantial reductions in alcohol use by Irish teenagers between 1995 and 2015.
The survey found that 35% of Irish teenagers had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days compared to a European average of 48%.
Furthermore, the number of Irish teenagers who engaged in episodic drinking over the past 30 days was 28% which compares to a European average of 35%.
On the average drinking day, Irish teenagers consumed 60ml of alcohol while cider accounted for one-quarter of teenagers’ total alcohol consumption in Ireland, the second preferred alcoholic beverage next to beer and spirits.
This is the sixth such report since 1995 which shows that alcohol use among adolescents remains high in Europe and the prevalence of ‘heavy episodic drinking’ remains unchanged over the 20 years that ESPAD has been compiling the four-yearly reports. Some 35% reported heavy episodic drinking in the past month with 78% reporting relatively easy access to alcohol.
But it does point out that following progressive increases from 1995, the prevalence values have clearly decreased from 2011 to 2015 (for boys: from 44% to 37% and for girls: from 38% to 33%) in some countries.
The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has welcomed the publication of the ESPAD report.
“I welcome the findings of today’s report which confirm findings from previous ESPAD studies and the most recent WHO Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study which stated ‘Ireland is amongst a group of countries which have the most abstemious adolescents’,” said ABFI’s Ross MacMathúna, “It confirms what we in the industry already know, that consumption of alcohol in Ireland has declined by 25% over the last 15 years and is declining in particular amongst our young people. We welcome and are encouraged by these findings.
“If we’re to have a mature and honest discussion on alcohol consumption in Ireland we need to look at the full picture and look at the facts, which speak for themselves. In light of these findings it’s vital that we have an evidence-based approach to the policy-making in this area.”