Young people in Estonia are increasing using e-cigarettes and snus instead of ordinary cigarettes and the misuse of soporifics and tranquilizers is a growing trend, a study from the National Institute for Health Development shows.
Sigrid Vorobjov, head of the department of drug and infectious diseases epidemiology at the National Institute for Health Development, said the survey revealed positive trends when it comes to the use of some substances, as specifically smoking and the use of cannabis have declined.
"It is also a good thing that there are more 15 to 16-year-olds who have never drunk alcohol. At the same time, it is a cause for concern that the number of young people consuming alcohol more frequently has not declined in comparison with the previous survey conducted in 2015," Vorobjov said.
Almost one in three young people aged 15-16 have consumed alcohol during the past month and a quarter have been drunk during the past year. Surveys conducted over the past ten years reveal that reductions have take place both in the cases of consumption of large amounts of alcohol during one occasion of alcohol consumption as well as in the frequency of such acts of consumption, and the decline has been more pronounced among boys.
"Although we can see a reduction in the smoking of cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes and snus has increased at the same time," Vorobjov said.
E-cigarettes tend to be a preference for boys and snus for girls. While the use of cannabis has declined, the use of soporifics and/or tranquilizers without a doctor's prescription is a new trend, which has risen to 15 percent from 9 percent in the previous survey.
No major changes have taken place in the past four years when it comes to the consumption of cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis and soporifics/tranquilizers. Ecstasy meanwhile has become somewhat more easily available during that period. Almost one in two young people get the alcohol they consume from friends.
The study clearly reveals the importance of good relations with parents and parental control, existence of agreements and observance of agreements in preventing substance abuse. For instance, there were significantly fewer daily smokers among the young people who estimated their relations with parents to be good. Such young people also consumed less alcohol and narcotic substances.
It was also revealed that drug abuse by young people is not linked to their assessment of the economic situation of their family, but is linked to the amount of pocket money they get.
"This definitely doesn't mean that young people should not be given pocket money, yet the parent definitely should pay more attention to what the money is spent for by the young person. For instance, a sudden increase in the amount of money needed may be a sign of danger," Vorobjov added.
The survey by the National Institute for Health Development on the use of tobacco products, alcohol and narcotic substances by 15 to 16-year-old students in Estonia charts the use of various substances by young people as well as links between abuse and several related factors such as relationships, parents, obtaining of information, leisure activities and so on. The survey has been conducted on a regular basis since 1995. The previous survey was taken in 2015.
The survey is part of an international study that covers over 35 countries in Europe. International data is to be made available in the fall.
Editor: Helen Wright