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Posted 19 April 2013

24% of adolescents binge drinking weekly by sixth year in secondary school

Almost one quarter (24%) of adolescents in Ireland binge drinking weekly by the time they reach sixth year in secondary school, according to a recent study.

The findings published in the 2013 Spring Edition of Psychiatry Professional also show that 16% of adolescents in the senior cycle (between the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate) have injured themselves or someone else when drinking in the past year, while only 6% reported that an adult in their lives had expressed concerns to cut down on their drinking behaviour in the past year.

This, the researchers say, ‘may suggest a potential lack of awareness among adults in relation to their adolescents’ risk behaviour and drinking’.

The researchers observed a strong association between categories of drinking behaviour and severity of depression among adolescents.

“Drinking excessively was found to increase the risk for depressive symptoms,” said Dr Barbara Dooley, UCD School of Psychology, University College Dublin, and Director of Research at Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, a co-author of the study.

“Our findings show that by fifth year in the senior school cycle around 35% of adolescents are binge drinking monthly while 18% are binge drinking weekly,” said Dr Amanda Fitzgerald from the UCD School of Psychology, University College Dublin, another of the study’s co-authors.

“And by sixth year, 36% of the adolescents surveyed were binge drinking monthly and 24% were binge drinking weekly.”

The data points to a significant shift in the frequency of binge drinking and volume of alcohol consumed across the school years, where alcohol use becomes a particular concern among adolescents in the senior cycle.

“To tackle the alcohol drinking behaviours of adolescents in Ireland we will need the involvement of parents, schools, and the wider community,” said Dr Dooley.

The study involved more than 6,000 adolescents aged 12 to 19 from across 72 post-primary schools. Binge drinking was defined as ‘six or more drinks in one sitting or session’.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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