Alcohol intake among 16 year-old European adolescents according to the European ESPAD report

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) is a survey which has been carried out every four years by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction(EMCDDA) since 1995. Forty eight countries have participated at least once. The survey allows for the gathering of comparable data concerning drug consumption among 16 year-old students and also records any variations in the use of psychoactive products among adolescents over a long period of time, in each country.

In 2015, 96,046 16 year-old students and from 35 countries* took part in the survey, which was carried out in accordance with a standardised methodology in all participating countries and with a common anonymous self-administered questionnaire.

Consumption of alcoholic drinks at 16 in Europe

In the north of Europe, the percentages of alcoholic intake over the 30 days prior to the administration of the survey were generally below 47%, the European average. However, Denmark was above 60%. Other European countries with significant consumption were Greece, Cyprus and the Czech Republic. France was above the European average, at 53%, and boys’ consumption was five points higher than that corresponding to girls. Similarly, in eastern countries like Albania, Georgia and Montenegro, alcohol consumption was much higher for boys than for girls. On the other hand, in some northern European countries like Iceland and Denmark, consumption was high regardless of gender.

Regarding the evolution of consumption, in 2015, in most countries, adolescents consumed less alcohol than in 2011; this, for example, is the case in Baltic and Nordic countries. In the case of Lithuania, there was a percentage drop of 29 points. In Moldavia, meanwhile, the trend was upwards.

Spain, which did not participate in the ESPAD 2015 report but did provide data for the Review of drug use in secondary education in Spain, which was carried out between November 2014 and April 2015, is among the countries with the highest consumption of alcohol, with results of over 60%.

Recent consumption of alcoholic drinks in Europe in 201540-imatge-espad-anglesAt least one intake of alcohol during the month leading up to the survey

Exceptional bouts of serious drunkenness at 16 in Europe 

In 2015, the average number of European adolescents who had drunk alcohol during the 30 days prior to the study with a serious state of drunkenness as the outcome was 35%. The countries at the top of this classification were Denmark, Austria and Cyprus, with percentages of 56%, 53% and 50% respectively. France registered 31%. At the other extreme, with a lower intake, were Icelandic adolescents, followed by Norwegians and Portuguese, with percentages of 9%, 19% and 20% respectively. In terms of gender, there was little difference between boys and girls in Nordic countries, but the difference was bigger in eastern countries with boys drinking much more.

Concerning the evolution of such habits over recent years, between 2011 and 2015, France, Greece and countries in northern and eastern countries saw a significant drop in bouts of extreme drunkenness. In Cyprus, Moldavia and Montenegro, however, the trend was upwards.

In Spain, according to the national survey between November 2014 and April 2015, alcohol consumption of this nature was lower, with results of between 24 and 31%.

In Catalonia, at present there is a survey dealing with school cohabitation being carried out for 2016-2017. This survey focuses on secondary students and aims to explore different types of behaviour, such as the consumption of alcohol, hashish and synthetic drugs. The survey of school cohabitation and security in Catalonia (ECESC, school year 2011-2012) stated that alcohol consumption among older secondary school students was 61%.

* Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and Cyprus.


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