The Malta Independent 9 August 2020, Sunday

Inhalants Most widely used drugs among youngsters

Malta Independent Wednesday, 20 June 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

The results of the 2011 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (Espad) show that inhalants are the most widely used ‘illicit’ drug among young people in Malta and the third most popular substance after alcohol and tobacco.

Espad involved a data collection process among 105,000 European students from 39 countries last year. A total of 3,377 15- to 16-year-old students attending Maltese schools participated in the survey, which was carried out by means of a questionnaire.

The results are a little bit encouraging since there is a general improvement over the results of the 2007 survey, but Malta has higher prevalence rates for alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking and lifetime use of inhalants. On a positive note, the country has lower prevalence rates for cigarette use and cannabis use.

Justice, Public Consultation and the Family Minister Chris Said addressed a press conference at St Joseph Home in Santa Venera yesterday, saying that a law preventing the sale of inhalants to minors is currently being drafted. The law will prohibit the sale of butane, which is commonly used as lighter fluid, but could eventually be amended to cover other inhalants.

Inhalants are products containing chemicals that cause feelings of euphoria or disorientation when inhaled. They are not necessarily illegal substances, but are very affordable and can be found anywhere. They include products such as lighter fluid, gasoline, paint thinner, nail polish, glue and felt-tip markers.

Dr Said also spoke about the National Alcohol Policy, saying it has been drafted and discussions are currently underway with the major stakeholders.

The draft policy proposes 52 actions within 6 different sectors: market regulation; crime, disorder and victimisation; occupational health and safety; demand reduction; evaluation, research and training; and international collaboration.

Once the policy is finalised it will be presented for public consultation, said the minister, explaining that the main goal of the policy is to introduce a sense of responsibility with respect to alcohol consumption.

Sina Bugeja, chief executive officer at the Foundation for Social Welfare Services noted that although society seems to be more concerned about the use and abuse of illicit substances, the results shown in the Espad 2011 National Report show that alcohol and tobacco are the most common substances among young people.

The report shows that there was a small decrease in the general figures related to the use of tobacco and alcohol and also a decrease in the use of illicit drugs.

More than two-thirds of the students interviewed reported having consumed alcohol in the previous month, while 56% said they had engaged in heavy episodic drinking.

Tobacco is the second most widely used substance among youngsters, with 23% of participants saying they had smoked in the previous month. And other substances most frequently used are inhalants (14%), cannabis (10%), mephedrone (4%), cocaine (4%), tranquillisers or sedatives without a prescription (3%), amphetamines (3%) and ecstasy).

The survey indicates significant decreases (of about 3%) in the use of cannabis, amphetamines, inhalants and the consumption of alcohol together with pills.

The biggest changes between the 2007 and 2011 surveys were in the ‘lifetime’ cigarette use, the ‘last 30 day’ cigarette use, frequent alcohol use, lifetime use of illicit drugs, lifetime use of cannabis, and the consumption of alcohol together with pills.

The survey also shows that the most popular drinking venues are bars or pubs, followed by discos and at home.

A copy of the ESPAD 2011 National Report is available for download from www.sedqa.gov.mt.

Yesterday Aġenzija Sedqa launched a pack of new informative material for young people and parents on the use of cannabis, mephedrone, inhalants, ecstasy and LSD. The material can be downloaded from the agency’s website. Alternatively, free copies can be requested by calling 2388-5110 or sending an email to [email protected]

Sedqa is currently also marking its 18th anniversary, which falls on the 26 June – the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Use of drugs among young people

14% inhalants

10% cannabis

Although society seems to be more concerned about the use and abuse of illicit substances, the results shown in the Espad 2011 National Report show that alcohol and tobacco are the most common substances among young people

  • don't miss