Irish high school students drink alcohol less often than their European peers, it has been revealed. However when they do drink they consume more, according to a European survey published on Thursday.
According to a report in the Irish Times 50 per cent of the Irish 15 and 16-year-olds surveyed for the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs had drunk alcohol in the previous 30 days, which is 7 per cent below the European average.
Two out of five students surveyed reported having five or more drinks in one sitting over the past 30 days, which was slightly above the European average.
The new survey is the largest European research project on adolescent substance use in the world and the fifth of its kind to be carried out since 1995.
To determine the new figures data was collected from more than 100,000 students in 37 countries in the spring of 2011. 2,207 Irish students responded to anonymous questionnaires distributed in the classroom under the supervision of a teacher or research assistant.
In an surprising finding a total of 19 per cent of Irish teenagers surveyed said they had tried illicit drugs, which represents a drop from 37 per cent among a similar group in 1995.
The number who had smoked cannabis fell by 19 percentage points, bringing Irish students use of illicit drugs, cannabis and other inhalants in line with European averages.
Irish students are also smoking less than their European counterparts, with 23 per cent of girls and 19 per cent of boys having smoked in the last month, compared to a 28 per cent average among both sexes across Europe. The percentage of young Irish smokers in this age group has halved since 1995.
Beer was reportedly the most popular beverage among Irish boys, with 47 per cent consuming it the last time they drank. Cider was the drink of choice for girls, with 37 per cent of girls consuming it on the last occasion.
Worryingly a total of 37 per cent of the Irish students surveyed reported being intoxicated in the past 12 months, and 23 per cent had been drunk in the past 30 days. This contrasted with the overall European average of 17 per cent.