Alcohol a factor in 60% of teen STD cases, says expert


Alcohol is involved in more than 60 per cent of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers, a specialist in genito-urinary medicine has said.

Dr Derek Freedman, who will speak at a conference on teenagers, titled Under the Influence of Affluence in Dublin this evening, said he was seeing higher numbers of teenagers, as young as 13 and 14, attending his clinic.

"If you took alcohol out of the equation numbers would be down by more than 60 per cent, definitely."

They were attending with "the whole range" of STDs, he said. Though he did not have figures, he said numbers were definitely increasing and that there were more boys than girls attending.

"What I am really shocked at is the amount of alcohol they are consuming. Boys say they are drinking eight to 10 pints in a night. It increases their risk-taking behaviour.

"They are not in a state to make their minds up about whether to have sex and some are not even in a state to remember it, " said Dr Freedman.

Dr Steven Rowan, director of the Rutland Centre in Dublin, who will speak on increasing rates of alcoholism among teenagers, says worryingly high numbers of teenagers and young adults will become alcoholics if the current levels of binge drinking are not addressed.

At this evening's seminar Dr Rowan will say an increasing proportion of the Rutland Centre's young clients - aged 18 to 25 - were presenting with alcoholism.

"These people have generally begun drinking in their early teens and have been drinking very heavily since their mid-teens."

He said that of those teenagers today who are drinking heavily, 10 to 15 per cent would go on to develop "full-blown alcoholism".

Quoting from a 2003 European Schools Project on Alcohol and Drugs report, he said one third of boys and girls aged 16 had had three or more "binge" drinking sessions in the 30 days preceding that study and Ireland's 16-year-olds were found to have the highest amount of injury due to alcohol of all 35 countries surveyed.