Alcohol constitutes the most popular substance among young people aged 16 years old whilst 47% of the students who took part in a Cyprus Anti-Drugs Council (CAC) survey said that they have drunk alcohol at the age of 13 and even earlier.
The results of the survey were presented on Wednesday, at a press conference, in Nicosia, in the framework of the 4th annual Alcohol Awareness Week.
Nearly four in five students said they had easy access to alcohol, which is above the European average.
At the same time the phenomenon of excessive consumption of alcohol on a single occasion has been observed mainly in Austria, Cyprus and Denmark, where almost one in two students said they had consumed more than five drinks on one occasion in the last 30 days.
These percentages are very worrying since compared to a previous survey there is an upward tendency of 1% in boys, and 11% in girls.
The Alcohol Awareness Week aims to promote steps to reduce the risks entailed by the harmful consumption of alcohol in young people between the ages of 14 to 24, to reduce access to alcohol for children under 17 years of age by promoting responsible sales practices and to reduce excessive consumption in young people through actions during festivals and parties.
Addressing the press conference, CAC President Chrysanthos Georgiou said that promoting actions to deal with the harmful effects of consumption and excessive consumption of alcohol among teenagers constitutes a priority for both CAC and Europe as a whole.
On his part, Petros Agathaggelou, President of the Cyprus Medical Association, said that according to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) the consumption of alcohol among students in Cyprus is considerably higher than the EU average, with the country ranking 3rd among 48 countries.
He also referred to “the serious effects and damage caused in a brain which is not fully developed at this age, which are catalytic.”
Aggressive behaviour, lack of concentration, memory deterioration, a decline in learning capacity, judgement and expression or even alcoholism are all direct effects of alcohol use during adolescence, which could become permanent if the use of alcohol continues, he warned.
Alcohol consumption is a social phenomenon which should be dealt with immediately by both the family and the state, he pointed out.