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Study Reviews Trends in European Youth Cannabis and Substance Use



A recent study reviewed the substance use habits of Europeans and found that teenagers are drinking and smoking tobacco less, but consuming cannabis more.

“Smoking and drinking among 15- to 16-year-old school students are showing signs of decline, but there are concerns over potentially risky cannabis use and the challenges posed by new addictive behavior,” stated the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), according to In addition to substances, the study also examined things that could be addictive to teens, such as social media, video games and screen time.

The survey compared the experiences of approximately 100,000 56- and 16-year-olds in 35 countries. Of those surveyed, fewer people reported to monthly alcohol use than in previous years. ESPAD also revealed that only 10 percent of those polled said they smoked tobacco on a daily basis, which is cut in half from a survey 25 years ago.

However, even though those numbers have decreased, 16 percent of youth who were polled said they had tried cannabis, which is an increase from the 11 percent reported in a 1995 study. Seven percent of teenagers stated that they consumed cannabis monthly, and in certain countries, these numbers were even higher. Eleven percent of people in Italy said they partake in monthly cannabis use.

Additionally, use of other drugs had increased as well, according to the study. Teenagers in France claimed that 24 percent polled had taken illicit drugs once, and 2.8 percent of those from France admitted to trying cocaine. “The non-medical use of prescription drugs among adolescents remains a concern,” the study warned, noting 6.6 percent of the sample had used tranquilizers and sedatives.

While an increase in illicit drug use by European youths isn’t positive, alcohol and tobacco consumption has been reported in decline.

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