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  • Lauri Beekmann

Blue Cross Norway: Students who don't drink risk being excluded from the community

22.08.2023 - Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 feel an increasing pressure to consume alcohol in social contexts. This is according to new data from a survey conducted by Ipsos for Blå Kors (Blue Cross).

90% of respondents feel that they are expected to consume alcohol. Nearly half also find it uncomfortable to decline alcohol in social situations.

This indicates that there is a strong social stigma around not drinking, which may cause many young individuals to feel pressured into consuming alcohol, regardless of personal preferences or health reasons.

Drinking to Avoid Explaining Themselves

The study also reveals that an increasing proportion of young people report consuming alcohol to avoid explaining why they don't want to drink. A full 1 in 3 states they have consumed alcohol to avoid uncomfortable questions or remarks.

Moreover, 57% of participants say it's more socially acceptable to be intoxicated than to refuse alcohol. This is an increase of 4% from a similar survey conducted in 2021.

We Should Be More Open About Our Drinking Culture

"The numbers indicate that society's perceptions surrounding drinking culture and social norms continue to influence the behaviour and attitudes of the young. This can have detrimental consequences for their physical and mental health," says Hanne Backe-Hansen, an advisor at Blå Kors. She expresses concern over the findings and calls for a wider societal debate about drinking culture and social pressure.

"The survey shows that we should focus on creating a more inclusive and accepting social environment where individual choices and preferences are respected without the need for explanation or defence. We hope that those around us, including parents and educational institutions, play a greater role in promoting a healthy and safe social atmosphere where individual choices are respected and where abstaining from alcohol is as acceptable as consuming it in moderate amounts. With the start of the school year approaching and introduction weeks aimed at fostering a positive student environment, we must ensure that those who choose to decline alcohol don't feel excluded from the community."

Main Findings from the Survey (ages 18 – 29):

  • 90% of young people between 18-29 feel there's an expectation to drink alcohol at parties and other social occasions.

  • Nearly half find it uncomfortable to decline alcohol.

  • 1 in 3 say they've drunk alcohol to avoid defending their choice (34%, compared to 36% in 2021).

  • 57% agree that being drunk is more socially acceptable than refusing alcohol. (Compared to 53% in 2021)

  • 55% agree that those who don't drink are often excluded from social events.

The data is based on a new population survey conducted by Ipsos, commissioned by Blå Kors in 2023. NOTE: The figures discussed represent respondents aged 18-29.

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