According to a European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, almost half of all Irish 15 to 16-year-old teenagers have been drunk in the past 12 months.

This confirms that Ireland has one of the highest rates of drunkenness amongst its teenage population.

Although 90 percent of young people in Europe have tasted alcohol, a smaller proportion have got drunk on alcohol.

The figures show that 47 percent of Irish students admitted to being drunk compared to the European average of 39 percent.

The UK had the highest rate of drunkenness amongst its students at 57 percent.

The survey defined drunkenness as staggering when walking, slurred speech or throwing up.

Smoking amongst teenagers has declined and the misuse of drugs has stagnated for the time being.

The report revealed that 20 percent of those surveyed had smoked cannabis and 10% of those had tried another illegal drug.

Cannabis use was slightly above the European average, although Irish girls now smoke more cannabis than Irish boys.

 Inhalant abuse was at 15 percent, which is well above the European average of 9 percent.

The report also found that Irish teenagers are less likely to use sedatives or tranquillizers than the rest of Europe.

The number of alcohol related admissions to Irish hospitals of under-18 year olds has declined from its peak of 670 in 2001.

Last month, a European Commission heard that between 95,000 adult men and 53,000 adult women died from liver cirrhosis in Europe in 2002. Most of the deaths were of people aged between 20-64 years of age.