A new report into the influences on non or light drinking young people in the UK has been released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Download the full report 'A positive choice: Young people who drink little or no alcohol' or summary here.
The study examined the lives and choices of young people (aged 16-25) who drink little or no alcohol. It explores the influences that shape their decisions and how their choices and patterns of consumption affect their lives.
Some summary findings include:
- getting drunk is not an automatic rite of passage for young people;
- young people who drink little or no alcohol tend to prefer activities where drinking alcohol rarely plays a role;
- the immediate effects of drinking alcohol (e.g. hangovers) concern young people more than longer-term health effects;
- young people believe alcohol education is based on the assumption that young people drink. They want 'not drinking' to be presented as a legitimate option.
Writing on the JRF blog one of the report's authors, Mariana Bayley, reflects on the findings and its implications. Bayley highlights the disparity between many young people not drinking and some of the media depictions of young binge drinking women especially. But whilst some non-drinking young people are comfortable stating their choice, others have strategies to avoid standing out as non-drinkers - not drinking therefore needs to be seen as a legitimate choice.
The study also featured in a Huffington Post report. Last year the JRF published the report Young people, alcohol and the media. It found young people's estimates of their friends’ drinking and the perceived acceptability of drinking by friends were key influences on their drinking.
Alcohol Concern last year called for more protection of children from alcohol advertising and Balance North East are calling for people to sign a petition to protect children and young people. Last year Turning Point called for more action to protect children from parental alcohol misuse.
The Department of Health is currently planning social marketing activity to target young people and alcohol.
Further alcohol-related reports and guidance related to children and young people can be found here on the Alcohol Learning Centre, including the CMO guidance or see the Drinkaware web-page for parents. See here a post on IBA for young people.