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SIXTY-TWO percent of Spanish teenagers drink once a week, especially at weekends, and more than half of them admit to binge drinking, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Spanish Red Cross.
The figures were revealed yesterday, when the organisation's roving anti-drink double decker, the H2O bus, arrived in Palma to tour the island, warning teenagers of the dangers of drink and other drugs. The bus will visit Palma (all day today, Plaza de S'Escorxador), Inca (tomorrow), Alcudia and the Port of Alcudia (Sunday).
The campaign is financed by the National Drugs Plan and the Youth Institute. It offers information on the effects of binge drinking, and suggests alternative forms of amusement. According to the survey, 43 percent of those who admitted drinking said they did so in pubs or clubs, 40 percent in streets and parks, where most of the binge drinking takes place, and 17 percent at home. Teenagers start to drink at an average age of 13 and a half, and there is no significant difference between the sexes. But although boys tend to drink more than girls, the repercussions on the organism are usually more negative in girls. The Red Cross says that the pattern of drinking is that it is experimental or occasional and is closely bound to “having a good time.” Eighty-five percent of those who drink, do so with a group of friends, compared to only four percent who say they drink with their boy/girl friend. Twelve percent admit to peer pressure, saying they only drink if they are with a group where everyone is drinking, and 12 percent say they drink to “feel better.” Three quarters of the teenagers say they drink to have fun while 66 percent believe that the effects of drink “are neither good nor bad.” Miquel Alenyà, chairman of the Red Cross in the Balearics, said that they hoped that by promoting healthy habits, they could reinforce the “perception of the risk of alcohol abuse” and fight the increase in consumption. Teenagers are informed of healthy leisure pursuits and are warned of the harmful effects of alcohol on the brain, or the false ideas which associate drugs with having a good time. Several schools have already made appointments for groups of students.
The Red Cross spokesman said that the latest figures issued by the National Drugs Plan in connection with 14 to 18 year olds showed that the dominant pattern continued to be experimental or occasional, associated with a good time and the weekend. The drugs most used by students are alcohol (55 percent), tobacco (29 percent) and cannabis (22 percent).