A new survey has highlighted a worryingly high level of alcohol consumption among Irish teenagers. The main findings are:

  • almost half (46%) admitted to being drunk more than once in their lifetime (compared with 34% in 2015)
  • more than a quarter (26%) were intoxicated in the last month
  • more than three-quarters (77%) have drunk alcohol
  • almost a third (30%) have tried alcohol by the age of 13
  • more than one in four teenagers drank alcohol in pubs or clubs, and
  • almost a third drink in the homes of friends

The findings are from survey data from the Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Taskforce of 15–16-year-olds in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. It was conducted by Planet Youth in October last year and is based on the responses of almost 4500 teenagers in 89 schools. Alcohol Action Ireland, which works to reduce alcohol harm, said it is highly concerned by the figures. The charity said that the survey shows that levels of alcohol consumption are significantly higher in all categories compared to the results of the nationwide European Schools Project for Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2015.

Parents need to take action

While almost every parent (97%) would strongly disapprove of their child using cannabis, less than three out of four disapproved strongly of drunkenness. The survey showed that teenagers with parents who are less disapproving of drunkenness are more than twice as likely to have been drunk in the last month. Peer pressure is also a major factor with almost one-third (32%) agreeing that it is important to drink so they are not left of out of their peer group.

The survey also reveals that around one in five (18%) teenagers had smoked cannabis and between 2–4% had tried ecstasy.

Chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, Sheila Gilheany, said the survey highlights the need for the full implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act. It has been more than 6 months since the act was passed but key parts such as minimum unit pricing, advertising content restrictions and labelling of alcohol products have not been enforced, she said.

Ms Gilheany said that a bottle of gin could be purchased for around €12.50. The imposition of minimum unit pricing would result in the same bottle costing at least €21. With young people being particularly price-sensitive, minimum unit pricing is an essential part of the act.

“It is notable that, in the report, students who have a high level of sports participation, are getting drunk regularly”, said Ms Gilheany, who said that there must be serious consequences for those supplying alcohol to children from off-licences or in pubs.

“We are calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to immediately commence all of its measures. What possible reason could there be for any further delay”, she asked. For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ alcohol-testing solutions and drug testing solutions, including a home drug testing kit, please call 0140 29466 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.ie