Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
European young people and Alcohol
IREB have published an excellent paper on alcohol use amongst young people ( 13-20 year olds) in Europe. The paper is largely based on the findings of the European School Survey Project of 16 year olds, carried out in 30 European countries in 1995 and 1999. The findings reveal that on the whole adolescents are starting to drink younger and new drinking patterns are emerging. By the age of 16 89% of teenagers have experienced alcohol The traditions of Southern (Latin) and Northen Europe survive, with a third pattern of consumption emerging from Eastern Europe. For example in 1999 only 3% of Greek youngsters had drunk three times or more over 30 days against 30% of Danish youngsters, the Northerners drank to become intoxicated, which was not the case in France or Italy.

Northern countries are characterised by low daily consumption but frequent intoxication whereas Latin youngsters drink more frequently, but less. In France and many Latin countries (especially Italy) the consumption of alcohol by youngsters is stable or falling. It is important to emphasise that just 10% of European youths reported being drunk once every 10 days, but 52% had been drunk ‘at least once’ in the last year. British youngsters come out badly with 16% of 16 year olds having drunk alcohol 10 times in the last 30 days, against an EU average of 8%, but this figure has remained stable between 1995 and 1999. Most British teenagers drank moderate levels and did not binge. The report hypothesises that wilful intoxication in the Northen Countries is a pattern which fades with age.

The publication features the Spanish problem of public drinking in squares and parks by youngsters . ’Botellons’, literally meaning ‘large bottle’ became popular in the 1980’s and reflect a more liberated youth. Late night festivities and socialising have formed part of the Spanish culture for centuries, but have not involved intoxication in the same way. The cheaper and more liberated idea of street parties rather than meeting in clubs or cafes has proliferated in an unregulated way. This has led to the government restricting the sale of alcohol to those under 18 and the consumption of alcohol in public places, Veronique Nahoum-Grappe asks if strict prohibition is a viable solution?.

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