Trends of smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use among youth, which studies
Authors: Balakireva O. M., Bondar T. V., Pavlova D. M.
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Article dwells upon the data obtained within the framework of the international research project “European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs – ESPAD”. The sixth wave of the survey took place in Ukraine in 2015 (the previous waves were organized in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011). It was conducted by Ukrainian Institute for Social Research after Oleksandr Yaremenko with the support of UNICEF in Ukraine and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) within the framework of international research project European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) carried out in 36 European countries. The data not only focuses on the latest results of the sixth wave of the students’ survey, but also analyzes trends of tobacco, alcohol and drugs use since 1995.
Dynamics of distribution of answers about availability of cigarettes during the research years demonstrates the positive trend of access reduction to tobacco products among adolescents. Since 1999, the rate of access to tobacco products almost halved. Data for trends in smoking prevalence during the past 30 days confirmed the downward trend among youth. During all years of the study (since 1995 and until 2015) among students aged 15–16 years, there is an observed trend of availability reduction of alcoholic beverages. Significantly reduced is the availability of alcoholic drinks for 16-year-old students. By one and a half times has decreased the availability of wine. Regarding soft drinks and champagne, the data is only available for the last 2 waves of the study and it also demonstrates a decline. However, during 6 waves of the study there were spikes in the indicator of alcoholic beverages availability. Since 1995 until 2003, there has been a dramatic increase in availability of beer, wine and spirits. Since 2007 there has been a significant decrease in availability, on average, by half for wine and beer, and almost doubled for spirits.
The last two waves of observations revealed decreasing trend in the number of students with alcohol consumption experience (consumed alcohol at least once in a lifetime). Since 1995 until 2007 this figure has gradually increased, peaking in 2007. For the entire 20-year period, the lowest rate of alcohol consumption was recorded in 2015. Since 1995 until 2007 there was a gradual increase in the number of students who have consumed alcohol during the last 30 days. In 2011, this figure has decreased, but the significant decrease in the number of students was recorded in 2015. The gender difference observed after the first two waves, changed from the predominance of the proportion of girls who consumed alcohol during the last 30 days (preceding the survey), to the predominance of the prevalence of number of boys in 2007. However, the last two waves do not capture a significant gender difference in the prevalence of alcohol use during the past 30 days. When comparing the indicator of the drugs’ availability it should be noted that during the period from 1995 to 1999, the number of 16-year-old students who mentioned the easiness of obtaining marijuana across the group of respondents has increased by more than 2.3 times. In 2011 there was some decline in availability of marijuana, but survey of 2015, confirmed the new increase in the share of young people who noted that they can “very easy” or “rather easy” get marijuana or hashish. A significant gender difference remains in answers on the availability of marijuana. It should be noted that the declared accessibility of marijuana among girls in 2015 is the highest for the entire study.
Prevalence trends of marijuana use repeats the described trends in the prevalence of any drugs addiction: growth in 1995–1999–2003 years with decreasing rates in 2007, a slight decrease in 2011 and a minor decrease in 2015. The highest rates of marijuana use among the target group during the past 30 days (preceding the survey) were recorded in 1999 and 2003, and the lowest in 2011. In 2015 on contrary to 2011 data, there was an increase in use of marijuana both among boys and girls. The obtained data provides important information for understanding of youth; the relationship between the development of habits and prevention interventions; for the development and planning of educational programs aimed at reducing risky behavior in adolescence and youth.
The authors consider it appropriate to emphasize the need for continuous monitoring of availability levels and prevalence of substance use such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs; behavioral practices in relation to their experiments and use of substances. Monitoring data also allows analyzing the effectiveness of policies and/or individual measures to identify barriers and factors affecting distribution. Moreover, sociological surveys provide an opportunity to identify and determine the level of awareness regarding the harmful consequences of such use, and of attitudes in relation to their own health.