Home > Growing Up in Ireland: the Lives of 17/18-year-olds.

McNamara, Eoin and Murphy, Daraine and Murray, Aisling and Smyth, Emer and Watson, Dorothy (2020) Growing Up in Ireland: the Lives of 17/18-year-olds. Dublin: ESRI; Trinity College Dublin; Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

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This report provides a descriptive analysis of the findings from detailed interviews with 17/18-year-olds and their parents involved in the Growing Up in Ireland study in 2015/16. The purpose of the report is to present a comprehensive overview of the lives of the young people at age 17/18, in the light of their circumstances at earlier interviews, and to describe how they are faring in important areas of their lives.


Less than one Young Person in 10 (8%) reported smoking daily; 12 per cent smoked occasionally. Overall, almost half (49%) of all 17/18-year-olds had ever smoked a cigarette, and they were significantly more likely to have done so if one of their parents was a smoker (57% if Parent One, 53% if Parent Two).


Most 17/18-year-olds reported having consumed alcohol at some stage (90%), typically reporting having had their first drink between the ages of 15 and 17. The data show that 5 per cent of the 17/18-year-olds reported drinking behaviour that would be classified as high or very high risk using the WHO screening tool, but another 31 per cent reported drinking behaviour that would be classified as risky or hazardous. The remaining young people included the 18 per cent who reported that they did not drink and 46 per cent whose self-reported drinking habits were classified as low-risk.


Nearly one-third (30%) of the 17/18-year-olds reported having tried cannabis, with between 2 per cent and 4 per cent having tried each of ecstasy, cocaine, painkillers and aerosols/solvents. Just under 8 per cent stated that they currently smoked cannabis occasionally, and just under 2 per cent smoked cannabis more than once per week.

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