Introduction: MTS is a Tier 3 day treatment service for young substance users within the Southern Regional Drugs Task Force area (Cork/Kerry).
Methods and Materials: The objectives of this study were to collect demographic information and alcohol usage data about service-users who attended MTS during 2009. Ethics approval was obtained from the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals. Data were collected from service-user records, which were compiled from service-user interviews conducted during initial therapy sessions. A database was constructed from the collected data and analysed using PASW Statistics 18 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Ill.).
Results: Adolescents (n=90), of whom 90.0% were male were accepted for treatment at MTS during the period Jan-Dec 2009 for counselling relating to substance use. The adolescents ranged in age from 13-20 years (mean=16.2 ± 1.2 years). Sixteen of these (17.8%) were seeking help with alcohol as their main substance of misuse.
Of those entering treatment, 92.2% admitted to drinking alcohol in the month previous to enrolment, and 67.8% reported as having consumed their first alcoholic beverage by 13 years of age. The favoured alcoholic beverage was beer (78.3%). Self-reported frequency of alcohol consumption, in the month prior to enrolment, was 8 days (median; with an IQR of 6-10 days). The median units of alcohol consumed by service-users on a typical drinking day was 24 (IQR=16-28 units).
Conclusions: Results show that the number of service-users who have had their first drink by 13 years is nearly double the national figure (38%)1. The results also highlight that service-users consume more alcohol in a drinking day than the recommended weekly allowance for an adult2. Analysis of the commonalities within this group will lead to the identification of factors which influence substance misuse within this cohort.
1 Currie, C., Nic Gabhainn, S., Godeau, E., Roberts, C., Smith, R., Currie, D., Pickett, W., Richter, M., Morgan, A. & Barnekow, V. (eds.) (2008). Inequalities in young people's health: HBSC international report from the 2005/2006 Survey. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 5).
2 Strategic Task Force on Alcohol. (2004) Strategic Task Force on Alcohol: second report. Health Promotion Unit, Department of Health and Children, Dublin.