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Half our teens get drunk before 16

NEARLY half of all Irish teenagers first got drunk before they turned 16 years old, a new report has revealed.

While alcohol was more popular than other substances among Irish teens, more than a third reported trying drugs, and most of those (64pc) had done so before their 16th birthday.

Unicef interviewed more than 500 young people aged between 16 and 20 in late 2010.

The charity first looked at teenage wellbeing or 'happiness', and mental health, and it has released its two final reports on drugs and alcohol, and on sexual health and behaviour.

Changing The Future: Experiencing Adolescence In Contemporary Ireland, has revealed the increasingly risky behaviour of Irish youngsters.


More than eight in ten (82pc) young Irish women reported to drinking alcohol compared to 69pc of male teens.

Unicef remarked that young people "clearly perceived the consumption of alcohol as a social activity" as figures revealed that 90pc of teens first got drunk with friends rather than on their own.

Unicef warned of "the emergence of a dangerous orthodoxy in which drugs and alcohol are accepted as normal".

Grass or weed was by far the most popular drug among that age group with 80pc of drug takers opting for this substance over others. In comparison, 15pc of young people doing drugs had tried cocaine.

Meanwhile, a second report released this week on sexual behaviour showed that one in five Irish teens had lost their virginity before the age of 16.