A new report on a small study population of just 80 people was released in December. ‘Young people
and alcohol: influences on how they drink’ by Peter Seaman and Theresa Ikegwuonu examines the
relationship of young people with alcohol and identifies the factors behind their drinking habits.
The report highlights the influence of drinking with friends and how pricing plays a significant role in
how much young people drink.
The research was carried out for the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation by a team from Glasgow Centre for
Population Health, who looked at the experiences of eighty 18-25 year-olds. The research shows that:
For most young adults drinking to get drunk was
seen as the default choice for socialising with peers.
Few could imagine realistic alternatives to alcohol
consumption for getting young people together.
The price of alcohol does play a role in the amount
of alcohol young people consume and also the
way in which it is consumed.
The research also highlights issues for policy
makers to consider in order to have an impact on
excessive alcohol consumption.
Moderate drinking in the family environment provides a potentially more balanced, alternative
view of drinking behaviour, in contrast to the
excessive consumption promoted commercially,
and which specifically targets young adults.
The way alcohol is sold to young people needs to
be looked at carefully, as young adults moderate
their behaviour when subject to informal pressures
of drinking among more mixed age groups, as
opposed to drinking in bars aimed at young
Young people saw heavy drinking as a phase that would end when they reached adulthood.
For young people who took longer to have
adult responsibilities such as employment and
parenting, the move away from excessive drinking
Report author Peter Seaman said:“With the increasing consumption of alcohol in the UK in recent decades, getting drunk together has
become an established part of the experience of
young adulthood. Alcohol has found a unique role in
the way friendship groups are forged and maintained,
partly because of the special nature of young
adulthood; the absence of other group bonding
opportunities; and the success of alcohol markets in
filling that void. Working with young people to off er
alternatives may help address this, rather than just imposing constraints.”
Joseph Rowntree Foundation Policy and Research Manager, Claire Turner, said: “We know there is considerable interest in the drinking
patterns of young people, and a desire to encourage
safer use of alcohol. Having a good understanding
of the drinking behaviour of today’s young adults is
vital to reducing future levels of alcohol-related harm.
This research can help policy makers understand the
reasons why young people drink, and highlights
issues needing consideration if they wish to make an
impact on excessive alcohol consumption”.