MORE than a fifth of children aged 12 to 13 in Spain have drunk alcohol in the last month – the shocking finding from a new government report on addiction in children.
The pilot study on alcohol consumption, tobacco and possible behavioural addictions found that 21.5% have drunk alcohol in the last month, and the number shoots up to 30.6% for the previous 12 months.
Conducted on 8,000 1st and 2nd year students by the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs and the Estudes (School Survey on Drug Use in Secondary Education Students), it raises significant concerns about the early onset of substance use in Spain.
It is the first study of potentially addictive consumption habits in this age group and focuses on the two most common legal substances with which these students live – alcohol and tobacco.
The survey also sheds light on how these young individuals access alcohol — primarily through local shops (41.6%), at other people’s homes (40.8%), or within their own homes (33.2%).
Furthermore, there appears to be a correlation between the drinking habits of parents and the likelihood of their children hitting the bottle.
In addition to alcohol, the study highlights a significant penchant for energy drinks among these young teens, with 37.7% reporting drinking them in the last month.
Alarmingly, over 10% are mixing these energy drinks with alcohol, a trend that intensifies with age.
Meanwhile, the study found a notable shift among 12 and 13-year-olds away from tobacco towards e-cigarettes, with 25% of the young respondents having tried them – a trend more prevalent among girls.
The study also looked at video game addiction. A high percentage of young teens engage in video gaming, with signs of problematic usage in 14.5% of respondents.
The WHO-recognised disorder of video game addiction is evident in 6% of the students, more commonly among boys.