ATHENS – Greece isn’t enforcing drinking laws prohibiting those under 18 from buying booze or getting clubs – some selling potentially deadly adulterated spirits – a survey by the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI) in the country’s capital has found.
Greek law prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks to minors but it has been ignored, the report said, based on reviews with those up to 16 years old who found easy access to liquor in stores and getting clubs, Kathimerini said in a report.
Alcohol consumption among teenagers in Greece is widespread, largely because it is considered socially acceptable, even taking place in the home, with the survey conducted as part of the European School Survey Project (ESPAD) showing some, 94.1 percent of minors have had beer, wine or liquor, including 66.2 percent in the month preceding the survey.
The study found 90.8 percent found it easy to obtain alcohol and 60.9 percent had consumed it at a bar, club, cafe or restaurant at least once in the previous month. It’s not uncommon to even see children who aren’t teens buying beer at outdoor kiosks.
Regarding the amounts consumed and frequency, 38.3 percent of respondents admitted to having more than five drinks on one occasion in the past month and 12.5 percent had got drunk at least once in the same period.
Overall, 36.3 percent said they had been drunk at least once in their lifetime and 28.2 percent had in the last year with indications drinking among minors is rampant and not confined to social occasions or holiday celebrations in the home.
Some 7.6 percent said they had had an alcoholic drink on at least 10 occasions in the month prior to the survey, with this average rising to 9.5 percent among boys – who favor spirits and beer – and dropping to 5.6 percent among girls – who prefer wine.
Overconsumption, with all of the risks this entails, affects one in 10 teens, according to the survey, which found that 9.9 percent of under-16s had consumed five or more drinks on at least three occasions in the month prior to the study. (Divided into boys and girls, the rate came to 12.2 percent among the former and 7.7 percent among the latter.)
The only good news from the survey is that in 2011, when the last UMHRI survey was carried out, this rate was 13.3 percent, meaning a drop of 3.4 percent by 2015, when this survey was carried out on some 3,200 students at 175 schools (the data were published in late 2017).
“Alcohol-related harm is the third biggest factor in the rise of morbidity and mortality in Europe. At the same time, it is a legal and very widely available product that is economically important to businesses and states,” Anna Kokkevi, a clinical psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Athens told the paper.
“All of this requires a multidimensional approach to the issue, but under no circumstances should we treat alcohol as something innocent, especially when it comes to young people.”
Indeed, one respondent on Trip Advisor, answering another who claimed to be 16 and wondering whether he could get into a bar or club was told it would be easy.
“I went to Greece 2 years ago when i was 17 and never got questioned about my age, and they seemed to serve anyone,” was the posting in 2009, showing nothing has changed about underage drinking in the country.
In 2012, the site Travel Insurance Direct advised how easy it was for minors to get their hands on liquor or beer or wine and that no one checks to see how old you are with no consequences.
“It’s rarely enforced by bar and nightclub owners eager to separate young holidaymakers from their cash. No one asks for ID, not at the bar, nor the cafe not even at the supermarket (where you can buy just about any type of alcohol).