Malta’s teenage girls rank among heaviest for episodic drinking

Claudette Abela Baldacchino and Stephanie Dimech from the Foundation for Social Welfare Services share the findings of a Mediterranean project
Photo: Shutterstock.com

Young girls in Malta have the second highest monthly prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion) when compared to 15/16-year-old girls from other northern Mediterranean countries participating in the Mediterranean School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (MedSPAD) (40.6% vs northern MedSPAD average 33.7%).

This was reported in the recent MedSPAD publication that the research team of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) contributed towards.

The MedSPAD project, which falls under the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, aims to provide information about potentially addictive behaviours among young people in the Mediterranean region. The report presents data and comparative, contextual information on, inter alia, national legislation and policies on alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling.

The countries that participated in the MedSPAD study were Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, which represented northern MedSPAD, and Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, representing southern MedSPAD.

The data was collected from just above 34,000 students in 11 countries. The topics that were investigated in the 2020-2021 MedSPAD questionnaire were: tobacco, alcohol, tranquillisers without a doctor’s prescription, cannabis and other substances, gambling, gaming and social media use, among others.

Malta ranked fourth highest in perceived availability of alcoholic drinks when compared to other MedSPAD countries including Croatia, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

In Malta, girls (88.2%) perceive alcohol to be slightly more accessible than boys (82.4%) as is the case with the majority of the other countries including Italy, France and Cyprus. In southern Mediterranean countries, such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, boys ranked higher overall compared to girls (19% compared to 13.4% in girls).

Cigarettes, drugs and gaming

When it comes to the prevalence of students using cigarettes at age 13 years or younger, within the northern MedSPAD countries, Malta ranked the lowest at 7.4% with the prevalence of girls at eight per cent and boys at 6.8%.

Malta ranked the third lowest in total lifetime use of cannabis (at 11.5%) when compared to other northern Mediterranean countries, falling under the 15.9% northern MedSPAD average.

Girls and boys in Malta who engaged in gaming on a typical school day ranked the highest when it comes to the average number of hours spent in the previous 30 days (with a percentage of 66.1%). During non-school days, Malta also ranked the highest at 78.4%.

Through the department that I [Claudette Abela Baldacchino] lead and with the expertise of our principal investigator, Sharon Arpa, we as a research team are committed towards the investigations and studies related to substances.

The next European School Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) will be conducted throughout schools in Europe in 2024. It will be held after the COVID-19 epidemic, which would give an overview of what happened during the past years. On the website of FSWS, one can delve into ESPAD reports and other statistical reports that our research team works upon: https://fsws.gov.mt/en/Pages/Reports.aspx.

A copy of the MedSPAD report can be accessed through this link.

Claudette Abela Baldacchino is director, Research Department at the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) and Stephanie Dimech is research executive at the FSWS.

For more Child articles, click here.

Related Posts