Drinking among Spanish youngsters on the rise

Use of other substances remains fairly constant in latest study

A group of youngsters drinking in a Madrid park.
A group of youngsters drinking in a Madrid park.Samuel Sánchez

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.

According to the results of the survey, which was conducted among 27,503 high school students across Spain, 74 percent 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, is not hiding 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 percent in 1994 to 30.8 percent in 2012.

The most recent survey included for the first time a question on the practice of botellón

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

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

Among those who smoke cannabis, 44 percent 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 percent.

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