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Youth who abstain from alcohol have a better relationship with their parents and fewer social contacts


Kristina Berglund
Kristina Berglund

05.03.2024 - Fewer and fewer youths are drinking. Those who abstain have fewer social contacts but also exhibit fewer problem behaviors and have a more open relationship with their parents than those who drink, a new study shows. To stimulate the trend of reduced alcohol consumption, society could, for example, invest in more drug-free venues for youths, the researchers suggest.


Alcohol consumption is decreasing among youths in Sweden. The same trend is observed around the world. A key to understanding this trend is characterizing the non-drinking youths. In their study to explain this, the researchers followed 600 youths in Sweden (slightly more girls than boys) from twelve to seventeen years of age. On four occasions during this period, they answered questions about, among other things, their alcohol habits and attitudes towards alcohol, any problem behaviors such as shoplifting or stealing, their mental health, and how they interact socially.


"We saw that those who do not drink have fewer social contacts than those who do drink," says Kristina Berglund, who conducted the study together with psychologist colleagues Karin Boson at the University of Gothenburg and Sabina Vlasman, Stockholm University.


Not surprisingly, perhaps, the non-drinkers had a more negative attitude towards alcohol, as well as towards other drugs. They showed fewer problem behaviors, greater self-control, and a more open relationship with their parents than those who drink.


Previous studies have shown that the attitude among youths towards alcohol as a marker of adulthood is changing. Among both those who drink and those who abstain, alcohol is no longer an important symbol for demonstrating adulthood.

"If society wants to support the trend of decreased alcohol consumption, it might be important to support parents in how they handle drug issues with their youths, as well as to offer more drug-free social venues," says Kristina Berglund.


Facts

The study is published in the International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, no. 1 2024: https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2024.2312861

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