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Irish teenage girls are Europe's biggest drinkers

Ireland's Female teenagers are getting drunk more often than their male counterparts. A new survey on the behaviour of 15- and 16-year-olds has revealed Irish teenagers are likely to get drunk more often than their European peers.

It reveals 26pc of Irish teens were drunk in the last month alone, compared to a European average of 18pc.

More girls (29pc) than boys (25pc) reported being drunk during the previous month.

However, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report found that while 73pc reported having consumed alcohol in the previous month in 2003, this has fallen to 58pc.

It showed that in 2003, 92pc of Irish students said they had drunk at some time in their lives, while in 2007 the figure was 87pc.

Girls showed a preference for alcopops, wine and spirits, whereas boys tended to drink beer and cider more often.

The vast majority (86pc) of Irish students had experimented with alcohol by the age of 16.

A large percentage had tried alcohol in their primary school years (21pc in the case of beer), and 7pc of students indicated that they were drunk for the first time by the age of 12.

There has been a significant fall in the number of students who have tried cannabis at some stage in their lives -- from 39pc in 2003 to 20.3pc. The reported percentage of cannabis use in Ireland is about the same as the European average.

While cannabis is reported by students to be more difficult to obtain now than in the past, a sizeable 4pc still believe that it is easy to get.

The use of solvents and inhalants fell from 18pc in 2003 to 15pc in 2007. However, the use of inhalants or solvents is higher in Ireland (15pc) than in most European countries (9pc). The most popular method of getting cigarettes was through friends.

The report indicated that 23pc of Irish students had smoked in the last month compared to the average of 29pc for all countries.

Just over half of the Irish teens had smoked at some time in their lives compared with 67pc in 2003. A significant minority said that they bought cigarettes in a shop or similar location; getting cigarettes from a machine was not a substantial category.

The perception by the young people of parents was that when they set definite rules, this is an important influence on their behaviour.

Parental monitoring (or rather children's perception of parental monitoring) is a major factor in preventing substance misuse -- young people are very aware of their parents 'keeping an eye' on their activities.

Belfast Telegraph