German Youths Choose Alcohol Over Cannabis, Drug Czar Says | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.05.2008

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German Youths Choose Alcohol Over Cannabis, Drug Czar Says

German youths are turning away from tobacco and cannabis. But there's been an "alarming" rise in binge-drinking, according to the annual report released by the government's commissioner on drug abuse.

A man empties a beer glass

Binge-drinking is on the rise

The 2008 report, which was presented by drug czar Sabine Baetzing on Monday, May 5, noted a rise in the number of drug-related deaths, to 1,394 during 2007, up 98 from the previous year, when the number of recorded deaths was the lowest since 1989.

The proportion of young people who were smokers had declined to 18 percent in 2007 from 28 percent just six years ago, the report said.

The report found that 13 percent of youths had tried cannabis, down from 22 percent three years earlier. Around 600,000 mostly young people were regular cannabis users, Baetzing said.

However, as illegal-drug use fell, excessive alcohol consumption was on the increase.

"So-called binge-drinking has risen sharply among the young," the report said.

Alcohol-induced comas

Two young men smoking and drinking

As drinking becomes more popular among young people, fewer are smoking

In 2005, youngsters aged 12-17 consumed 34 grams of pure alcohol a week, but by 2007 the amount had risen to 50 grams. The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions of those aged up to 20 had more than doubled between 2000 and 2006, to nearly 20,000, the report said.

Baetzing said the influence of alcohol advertising should not be underestimated, especially ads that targeted the young.

"The negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption are not shown there," she said.

Millions of addicts

Some 9.5 million Germans consumed alcohol in a way that was "risky," and 1.3 million were dependent on alcohol. The report found that around a third of adult Germans smoked and around 1.4 million were addicted to medication.

A man smoking

Tobacco remains Germany's No. 1 drug of choice

It applauded recent legislation passed in the 16 states to restrict smoking in public places and predicted that most people would quickly become used to the bans, as they had in other European countries.

The report put the number of people using opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and hallucinogens at 200,000.

Baetzing stressed her intention to design two "national action plans" to combat smoking and alcohol abuse, saying that drinking a glass of wine or beer was not the issue, but preventing addiction was.

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