Alcohol and Drug Use among Adolescents in Finland 1995–2015. ESPAD survey results
National Insitute for Health and Welfare (THL)
The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) has been conducted every four years since 1995 in 23–36 countries and most recently in 36 countries in Europe. Results from each year of the survey are compiled in this national report for Finland. The report monitors trends in the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and other substances; the age of onset of substance use; ways of acquiring alcohol; the perceived risks of various substances; as well as the prevalence of substance use and changes in it. As new phenomena, the use of e-cigarettes, and designer drugs is looked at. Also the prevalence and trends of gambling are included. The target group is young people who will be 16 years old during the calendar year of the survey. In Finland, this age group attends the ninth grade of comprehensive school. The data have been collected using stratified cluster sampling and questionnaires completed anonymously in school classes. In Finland the number of participants per year has varied between a little more than 2000 up to 5000 students. Youth smoking has decreased during the 21st century, and between 2011 and 2015 the decreasing trend has been especially steep. In 2015 the prevalence of daily smoking was 12% among boys and 10% among girls, while the corresponding figures were 20% and 18% in 2011. The use of moist snuff has increased sharply among boys but somewhat decreased among girls: 24% of boys and 5% of girls had used it during the past 30 days. The age of onset of smoking and use of moist snuff among the cohort studied in 2015 is, however, higher than among earlier cohorts. Use of e-cigarette and water pipe (shisha) was included in the survey for the first time in 2015. About half of the boys and a third of the girls had smoked e-cigarettes sometimes in their life. Daily use of e-cigarettes was rare. About one fifth of the 15–16 years olds had sometimes tried water pipe. However, there is no information on what the youth have smoked using these instruments. The amount of abstainers among adolescents has increased from one tenth in 1999 to as much as 26% in 2015. Heavy episodic drinking among adolescents was highly prevalent in Finland in the late 1990s, but like alcohol use in general, it has significantly decreased during the 2000s. 37% of adolescents aged 15–16 had been drunk at least once in their lifetime and about 7% reported getting drunk approximately every week. The age of onset of drinking to intoxication has risen during recent years. The use of cannabis increased among adults in Finland during the 1990s. After the turn of the century the use decreased but has in recent years increased again among young adults. In contrast, there has been no remarkable change in cannabis use among 15–16-year-olds. In 2015, 10% of boys and 7% of girls had used cannabis in their lifetime. The use of other illegal drugs is rare among 15–16 years old. In 2015, 3% of adolescents reported having tried some other drug than cannabis. The use of tranquillizers or sedatives without prescription, being more prevalent among girls, has somewhat decreased among both boys and girls since the recent point of measurement. In 2015, 4% of boys and 8% of girls had used these drugs in their lifetime. The proportion of adolescents who had used alcohol together with pills has decreased from 1995 to a fraction. In 2015, 3% of boys and 7% of girls had used alcohol together with pills during their lifetime. The increasing trend of using inhalants among boys turned downward already in 2011, and also among girls the trend seems now to be decreasing. In 2015, 7% of boys and 8% of girls reported having tried these substances during their lifetime. The proportion of boys who play slot machines at least weekly has dropped from 45% in 2011 to 9% in 2015. In the same way, the proportion of those who have never played slot machines has dramatically increased. During the whole study period, the youth have had more liberal attitudes toward regular use of alcohol than toward smoking. The attitudes have, however, become stricter toward weekly drinking to intoxication, especially between the two most recent points of measurement. In 2015, 49% of boys and 61% of girls perceived the risks related to regular drinking to intoxication as high. At the same time, the attitudes toward experimenting with cannabis have become more liberal since mid-1990s. Furthermore, the liberalization of attitudes has continued between the two recent points of measurement. Even though alcohol use among adolescents has dropped and experimenting with drugs has not risen after 1999, the increasing liberalization of attitudes can predict use in the future. From the point of view of prevention, it is important to pay attention to information on the risks of substance use.
adolescents, substance use, alcohol, intoxication, tobacco, drugs, cannabis, gambling, age of onset, Finland
Kirsimarja Raitasalo 01/02/2016
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