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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 12:54 GMT
Teenage drink and drugs in Europe
Alcohol shelf
Alcohol, drugs and smoking around Europe was measured
Britain may be at or near the top of the European leagues for drinking, smoking and drug abuse, but how do other countries fare?

There is distinct split in Europe when it comes to alcohol abuse among the young.

Europe's young: Drinking (% teenagers drunk 20 times or more)
Denmark 41%
UK 29%
Finland 28%
Ireland 25%
Portugal 4%
France 4%
Italy 2%
While there are exceptions, more Mediterranean facing countries such as Italy, France and Portugal have far fewer teenagers who get drunk frequently.

While well over a quarter of UK 15 and 16-year-olds confessed to getting drunk at least 20 times in their lifetime, in France, this was just 6%, and in Italy, just 2%.

Research has suggested that the differing culture surrounding alcohol means that what consumption there is, is spread over the entire week rather than simply concentrated into binges on Friday and Saturday nights.

At the other end of the scale is Denmark, where more than 40% of 15 and 16-year-olds had been drunk more than 20 times.

Europe's young: Cannabis use (% who had used it at least once)
UK 35%
France 35%
Ireland 32%
Slovenia 25%
Greece 8%
Sweden 8%
Malta 7%
Other high scorers were Ireland (34%) and Finland (28%).

Smoking

Cigarette smoking is spread fairly evenly across Europe among teenagers.

Russia and Finland rate highly on children who have smoked more than 40 times in their life - while Cyprus and Portugal are at the foot of this league table.

There is huge disparity in the use of cannabis - the most popular drug among teenagers.

While Cypriot, Maltese and Greek teenagers were least likely to have tried it, the UK and France tied for top place, with 35% of children confessing to having experimented.

When it comes to less popular drugs, such as amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy, some countries stand out.

In Estonia, 7% of teenagers have tried amphetamines - while virtually no Romanian teenagers own up to using them.

Neighbouring Latvia has an ecstasy culture - 6% of teenagers have taken it, compared to none in Hungary.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Health
UK children top drugs league
01 Feb 01 | Health
Cannabis 'damages mental health'
14 Aug 00 | Health
Binge drinking 'can damage brain'
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