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Drinking among Spanish youngsters on the rise

Source: El Pais - Wed 5th Mar 2014
Drinking among Spanish youngsters on the rise

Spanish youngsters aged between 14 and 18 are drinking considerably more, and are smoking tobacco and cannabis in equal amounts, according to the latest figures from the National Action Plan on Drugs' biannual State Survey on the use of Drugs in High School.

The results of the survey, conducted among 27,503 high school students across Spain, 74% have imbibed in the past month, 11 percentage points more than in the last study and a similar level to 20 years ago. The director of the plan, Francisco de Asís Babín, does not hide his concern over the figures, noting that "in principle we are talking about an age group that is prohibited from buying alcohol."

In correlation with the rise in overall consumption, there has also been an increase in the number of minors who said they had been drunk in the past month, from 16.1% in 1994 to 30.8% in 2012.

The most recent survey for the first time included a question on the practice of botellón, or open-air drinking. Some 53.3% of minors said they had done so in the last month with 97.2% saying they had drunk alcohol, compared to 43.5% who had not attended such a gathering. The numbers of youngsters binge drinking (5 or more drinks in 2 hours) was also higher in the case of botellón, at 74.1% compared to 9.5% among those who drank in other situations.

In terms of tobacco, 12.5% of those surveyed smoked on a daily basis compared to 18.9% in 2004, while in the same year 25.1% said they smoked cannabis compared to 16.1% in the latest study. Babín stated that of these, 16% are "risk consumers," or those that display social, physical or psychological problems.

Among those who smoke cannabis, 44% repeated an academic year, almost double the number of students who were held back a year but did not smoke cannabis.

Consumption of other drugs – mushrooms, mephedrone, ketamine etc – remained stable in the latest survey, with an increase in the number of youngsters taking hypnosedatives to 11.6%.