Home > Growing up in Ireland. Key findings: child cohort at 17/18 years. No. 4: risky health behaviours and sexual activity.

Economic and Social Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin. (2016) Growing up in Ireland. Key findings: child cohort at 17/18 years. No. 4: risky health behaviours and sexual activity. Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute.

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Adolescence is often characterised as a time of self-discovery, of new experiences, of forging new relationships.  It is often a time of experimentation with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs as well as first sexual experiences.  Many of these behaviours can have important consequences in terms of health, education and relationships, as well as interaction with the criminal justice system. 

  • The majority of 17/18-year-olds had consumed alcohol – 89%.  A minority (6%) of 17/18-year-olds said they drank 2-3 times per week, 40% drinking 2-4 times per month and 48% monthly or less. In general, males tended to drink more often than females.
  • When the young people were interviewed four years ago at 13 years of age 16% of them said they had already drank alcohol (more than a few sips).  These young people who had early experience of alcohol were more likely to be frequent drinkers and to consume more units of alcohol in a sitting when they drank, by the time they were 17/18 years of age.
  • 51% of 17/18-year-olds said that they had never smoked – 12% said they smoked ‘occasionally’ and 8% said they smoked daily.  Smoking was strongly related to family social group – 5% of young people from Professional/Managerial backgrounds said they smoked, compared with 17% of those from the most disadvantaged social group.
  • As with drinking alcohol, smoking from an earlier age was associated with heavier smoking by the age of 17/18 years – 31% of those who had smoked a cigarette by 13 years smoked daily by the time they were 17/18 years old, compared with only 6% of those who hadn’t smoked by 13 years.
  • Just over one-third of 17/18-year-olds had tried e-cigarettes (also known as vaping) – 40% of males compared with 28% of females.
  • When asked if they had ever used cannabis 69% of 17/18-year-olds said they had not; 17% used it ‘once or twice’; 4% said they ‘used to use it but not now’, 8% said they used it ‘occasionally’ and 2% said they used it ‘more than once a week’.
Date:November 2016
Pages:12 p.
Publisher:Economic and Social Research Institute
Corporate Creators:Economic and Social Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin
Place of Publication:Dublin
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Subjects:A Drugs and alcohol use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence of drugs and alcohol use > Drugs and alcohol use behaviour > Alcohol consumption
B Drugs and alcohol substances > Alcohol
B Drugs and alcohol substances > Tobacco (cigarette smoking)
B Drugs and alcohol substances > Tobacco (cigarette smoking) > Nicotine product (e-cigarette)
F Concepts in psychology > Specific attitude and behaviour > risk-taking behaviour
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Risk and protective factors > risk factors
T Demographic characteristics > Child
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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