Recent findings from the HBSC survey reveal alarming trends in youth substance use in Cyprus, with 50% of school-aged children having tried alcohol at least once. First-year lyceum students report a 73% rate of alcohol experimentation, 22% in primary schools, and 44% in gymnasiums. Additionally, 7% of 15-year-olds have tried cannabis. Efforts from the Education Ministry are underway to combat this issue.
What is the prevalence of substance use among youth in Cyprus?
Recent findings from the HBSC survey show a troubling trend in Cyprus, with 50% of school-aged children having tried alcohol at least once. First-year lyceum students report a 73% rate of alcohol experimentation, 22% in primary schools, and 44% in gymnasiums. Additionally, 7% of 15-year-olds have tried cannabis. Efforts from the Education Ministry are underway to combat this issue.
The Startling Reality of Substance Experimentation Among the Young
Recent findings have unveiled a concern that’s gripping Cyprus: the experimentation with substances like alcohol and drugs amongst school-aged children is more prevalent than previously feared. According to a survey orchestrated by HSBC on health behavior in school-age children, there’s a significant portion—a startling half—of these young individuals who have tasted alcohol at least once.
The HSBC Survey: A Deep Dive into the Issue
The survey, conducted by HBSC Cyprus, is part of a broader international effort that takes place every four years and spans 51 countries. It’s designed to probe into the habits of students aged 11, 13, and 15, which correspond to critical educational stages: the final year of primary school, the second year of gymnasium, and the initial year of lyceum, respectively. The entity at the helm of this research in Cyprus is none other than the education ministry’s centre for educational research and evaluation.
In the pilot phase back in 2018, Cyprus dipped its toes into the survey, but it wasn’t until 2021-2022 that an extensive study was conducted, roping in about 4,800 students. While the data points to a slight decline in substance use, the underlying reasons and frequency of consumption are raising red flags.
Alcohol Consumption: A Persistent Problem
Alcohol remains the substance of choice, with a staggering 73% of first-year lyceum students reporting having tried it. The figures are somewhat lower for younger students, yet they’re still alarming: 22% in the final year of primary school and 44% in gymnasium. Overall, 15% of participants admitted to having drunk alcohol to the point of intoxication.
The 2018-2019 pilot highlighted that 60% of students had consumed alcohol at least once, with a worrying 52.2% having drunk more than a single time in the past 30 days.
Misconception Around E-Cigarettes and Smoking
As the survey sheds light on, there exists a dangerous misconception among these young minds: the belief that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional smoking. Although there is a downtrend in conventional cigarette usage, this hasn’t been a silver lining, as it might be attributed to the shift towards e-cigarettes.
Cannabis Use Amongst the Youth
When it comes to cannabis, the figures are less dire but still concerning. Around 7% of 15-year-olds have tried cannabis, with 5% of boys and a significantly smaller 0.5% of girls using it regularly.
The Root Causes
Elena Hadjikakou, the deputy director of the pedagogical institute, articulated that the drive towards substance use could stem from a blend of factors—internal, biological, or external, encompassing the social and institutional environment. Family dynamics, she suggests, play a pivotal role, along with the presence of addiction within the family unit.
The education ministry, along with the addictions authority, is not sitting idle. They’ve crafted a series of initiatives aimed at preventing and tackling substance use among students. These include fostering a positive atmosphere in schools, providing web programs, free sports equipment, and “Reading bags for vulnerable families at home.”
Ongoing Efforts and Program Evaluations
Constantinos Stylianou, the head of the addictions authority, points out that there are about 12-15 approved programs for prevention and treatment of minors’ substance use. These programs undergo rigorous evaluations every four months to ensure their effectiveness and secure ongoing funding.
Regional Impacts on Energy Production
On a related note, amidst the ongoing regional turmoil, Energean CEO has assured that gas production has not been compromised.
Staying Informed and Engaged
For those seeking more information or looking to stay updated with these pressing issues, the Cyprus Mail offers a comprehensive newsletter service and an informative website packed with resources on health, education, and more.
- 50% of school-aged children in Cyprus have tried alcohol at least once, with first-year lyceum students reporting a 73% rate of alcohol experimentation.
- 7% of 15-year-olds in Cyprus have tried cannabis.
- There is a dangerous misconception among young people that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional smoking.
- Family dynamics and the presence of addiction within the family unit are identified as potential root causes of substance use.
- The Education Ministry in Cyprus is taking proactive steps to combat substance use among students, including implementing various initiatives and evaluating program effectiveness.