The Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare in office, has opted for scientific evidence to combat addictions. "Scientific evidence is an essential element in making decisions in any sector of public policy and, even more so, when we talk about health and social policies that directly affect people's lives".
This has been defended in the first Meeting on Research in Addictions, organized by the National Plan on Drugs. The minister explained that she intends to "connect the latest evidence on addictions with the search for solutions to public problems." In fact, the National Strategy on Addictions 2017-2024 considers the "improvement of basic and applied scientific knowledge" a priority area. "In this line are the calls for aid to develop research projects in addictions that the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs has been supporting and funding for several years," he explained.
Carcedo has stopped at highlighting the most recent scientific evidence about alcohol consumption. "The consumption of alcoholic beverages, even among minors, is a behavior that enjoys wide social acceptance in Spain, despite its proven harmful effects on health," he explained. "Minors are a priority group in the work of this Government and this Ministry," he recalled.
According to the latest State Survey on Drug Use in Secondary Education (STUDIES), alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive substance among students aged 14 to 18 years. Thus, in 2016, 77% of children said they had used alcohol at some time in their lives. 76% said they had done it sometime in the last year and 67% in the last month.
"In addition, the age of onset of alcohol consumption in Spain is very low, between 14 and 15 years, both for occasional consumption and for consumption with established periodicity," stressed the Minister. "We know that this early onset influences and conditions the pattern of consumption of other psychoactive substances, the appearance of abuse and addiction, as well as the magnitude of the effects produced on consumers," he explained.
The minister has also focused on "the large amounts ingested by minors, especially on weekends." Around 700,000 children admit to drinking five or more drinks or canes in less than two hours. "This evolution towards the consumption of binge eating caused the entry of at least 6,000 minors by ethyl commas in 2016", detailed Carcedo.
"Given these figures, we can conclude that young people continue to perceive that alcohol is a product without risks, very accessible and socially normalized", concluded the Minister. "It is clear that the consumption of alcohol among children is a problem that we have to address as a society," he insisted.
"Therefore, a day like today is fundamental, it must serve to change this and we can design evidence-based policies that are capable of giving us solutions to the problem of alcohol consumption by young people," he stressed. In this line the minister has announced that "the Ministry will address this social problem in the next term with a wide range of measures aimed at effectively preventing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors."
As detailed, "it is about persuading our young people and not punishing them and it is about convincing Spanish society that a practice with such serious consequences on health and society can not be banalized."
The minister thanked the scientific community for the work done: "Their work and the evidence it generates should be the cornerstone on which to design effective and fair public policies." And he has highlighted his commitment to continue counting with researchers, scientific institutes, hospitals, socio-health professionals, scientific societies, social entities, representatives of associations of mothers and fathers, communicators and policy makers.