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80% Ukrainian school teenagers tried alcohol, every other student smoked, and 10% have strong internet addiction, - survey supported by UNICEF

Kyiv, 20 September 2016 – In Ukraine, 83.4% teenagers used alcohol, 52.3% confirm smoking experience, and 11.3% – illegal substance use, - shows European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), conducted throughout 2015 with support by UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The survey also studied Internet, computer and gambling addiction among students and estimated 10.6% of Ukrainian adolescents have strong Internet addiction, 3.4% are addicted to online games and gambling.

ESPAD analysed the dynamics of substance abuse and prevalence of the Internet, computer and gambling addition among school students and impact of social environment on behaviours of young people.

“The excessive substance and internet use, gaming and gambling in adolescents raises a new public concern on how to protect adolescents’ health and wellbeing in the world of modern technologies and opportunities. We hope that ESPAD data will help all stakeholders develop healthy life styles policies and programmes in Ukraine”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF representative in Ukraine during the survey presentation on 20 September in Kyiv.

Tobacco use among adolescents. A half of Ukrainian students (52.3%) aged 15–17 tried tobacco at least once in their life. One in 12 adolescents tried to smoke cigarette when s/he was 9 or younger. 12.2% students (18.2% boys and 6.7% girls) smoke cigarettes every day. Teenagers aged 15 and over are the most frequent everyday smokers, which identifies this age as age when tobacco smoking becomes a habit and addiction to everyday smoking is developed.
Accessibility of cigarettes, including to adolescents, and the perception of risks associated with smoking, are important factors that determine tendency to smoking. 1 in 5 students claim having easy access to cigarettes. More boys than girls believe they will meet no obstacles trying to get cigarettes. Only 18.4% respondents agree that tobacco use may significantly jeopardize their health.

Alcohol use. The survey showed that 83.4% school students have ever tried alcohol in their life. In 15-year old children, this figure is 78.4%, in 16-17-year olds the number increases to 85%. Although the last indicator is high, in 2015 it was the lowest in 20 years of the survey. In 2007, it amounted to 91%, while in 2001 – to 88%.

The most popular alcohol among students was wine, as claimed by 26.6% of those that consumed alcohol 1-2 times during the last 30 days preceding the survey. Consuming beer and low alcohol drinks is also widespread among the adolescents – 20% and 18% respectively.

The teenagers mostly start with strong drinks at the age of 15 – as claimed by 11.4% respondents. The average age of first intoxication of the adolescents remains the same – 15 years.

34.5% school students said it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ for them to buy alcohol. The survey proved that low alcohol drinks and beer are the most accessible, as confirmed by 51.5% and 59.5% respondents respectively.

The perception of alcohol use is also one of key determinants of the prevalence and practices of alcohol use among the adolescents. Less than a half of students believe day-to-day alcohol use is harmful to their health, study finds.

Drug use. 11.3% respondents confirmed having used drugs at least once in their life (15.4% boys, 7.9% girls). Marijuana or hashish remains the most widespread drug, according to every tenth teenager. The level of use of other drugs is much lower – 3.6% adolescents (boys – 4.6%, girls – 2.9%) have ever tried something else. A positive trend is observed in the dynamics of marijuana and other drug use among 15-16-year olds – after it was growing throughout 1995-2003, it went down in 2007, 2011, and 2015.

Marijuana is the most popular because of its accessibility – 12.1% students claim that it is ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to buy it if needed. This accessibility grows over the years. In 1995, only 4.7% considered it was easy/very easy to get marijuana. The biggest share of students who ever tried marijuana or hashish are 15-16-year olds.

The last ESPAD survey analysed the poly drug use, when a person uses two or more different drugs at a time. Such a behaviour is practiced by 4% respondents, with three times more boys than girls using several drugs. The most widespread combination is simultaneous alcohol and tobacco use. Significant difference is observed between students of various types of school – poly drug use is the highest among vocational technical school students – 8.9%, while among college and secondary school students it is 5.9% and 2.7% respectively.

Internet, computer and gambling addiction. Internet-addition is becoming a more pressing problem. Only 6.5% respondents claimed not using the web. In average, the interviewed students spend 2-3 hours on the Internet a day on weekdays and 4-5 hours a day on weekends. The Internet addiction indicator derived from the survey proves that only 8.4% respondents don’t have this addiction, while 10.6% suffer a strong addiction.

As to online games addiction, almost a half of students are free from it. At the same time, 47.3% have moderate addiction, and 3.4% suffer strong addiction which affects their everyday life, studies, house duties, relationships with family and friends, and interaction with peers.

Another aspect of study was gambling addiction. It is found among 4.3% adolescents, of which 1.1% have a problematic addiction.


About ESPAD survey: The sixth wave of survey took place in Ukraine in 2015 (the previous waves were organized in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2007). It covered 6,674 students (3,215 boys and 3,459 girls) aged 15-17 from rural and urban secondary schools, vocational technical schools and colleges (higher educational institutions of the 1st and 2nd accreditation level).

It was conducted by Oleksandr Yaremenko Ukrainian Institute for Social Research with the support of UNICEF in Ukraine and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) within the framework of international research project European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) carried out in 33 European countries.

The full text of report “Tobacco, alcohol and drug use by student adolescents: prevalence and trends in Ukraine” is available at:


About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. Since then, the children’s agency has been working to improve the lives of children and families throughout Ukraine. UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: . Join us in Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтакте.

For further information, please contact: Iuliia Poberezhna, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Ukraine, +38-044-254-2450,



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