Several studies suggest a rapid decrease of alcohol use among adolescents after the turn of the century. With decreasing prevalence rates of smokers, a so-called hardening may have taken place, implying that remaining smokers are characterized by more psychosocial problems.
Authors of a report published in Alcohol and Alcoholism ask whether a similar process is being witnessed among remaining adolescent alcohol users as well? In 1992, 2002 and 2010 the researchers used identical procedures to collect data from three population-based samples of 16- and 17-year-old Norwegians (n = 9207). They collected data on alcohol consumption, binge drinking, parental factors, use of other substances, conduct problems, depressive symptoms, social integration, sexual behaviour and loneliness. The results showed that there was a steep increase in all measures of alcohol consumption from 1992 to 2002, followed by a similar decline until 2010. Most correlates remained stable over the time span.
The study concludes that alcohol use was consistently related to psychosocial problems; on the other hand, alcohol users reported higher levels of social acceptance and social integration than did non-users. There were no signs of ‘hardening’ as seen for tobacco use.
Source: Adolescent Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking: An 18-Year Trend Study of Prevalence and Correlates. Willy Pedersen and Tilmann von Soest. Alcohol and Alcoholism, first published online: 3 January 2015.