Why teens are saying “no” to alcohol

How has the function of alcohol use changed among adolescents over the past 20 years?

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In recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of high school students who drink alcohol. This decline is due to many factors, including increased awareness of the risks of underage drinking, changing social norms, and a growing number of sober alternatives to alcohol.

Here we will explore why high school kids say “no” to alcohol. We will also discuss the implications of this decline for public health and youth culture’s future.

A recent study conducted by the University of Otago, Wellington, suggests that changes in how high school students socialize may significantly contribute to a significant decline in youth drinking over the past two decades. Dr. Jude Ball, a public health researcher, and Dr. Michaela Pettie and Loleseti Poasa compared the attitudes towards drinking among high school students in 1999-2001 with those in 2022.

The researchers interviewed 64 students aged 14 to 17 from a co-ed school in Wellington in 2022. They compared their perspectives with 41 students aged 14-17 from Christchurch who participated in a study called the Adolescent Friendships and Lifestyles Project between 1999 and 2001. The findings of this study have been published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, an Asia Pacific journal.

Public health researcher Dr. Jude Ball says more than half of those in high school 20 years ago were regularly drinking and attending parties by the time they were in Year 10. By Year 12, all had at least some experience of using alcohol with their peers.

Resercher said, “The majority had been drunk at least once or twice, and many drank to intoxication on a weekly basis.”

A recent study found that high school students today drink less than before. Modern teenagers choose not to drink or drink only occasionally, often with their families. This behavior change is influenced by social media and spending more time online, which provides alternative ways to socialize and meet new people.

Unlike before, not drinking is now considered more acceptable among teens. There is a greater understanding and respect for individual choices, reducing peer pressure to drink alcohol. Today’s teenagers prioritize their personal goals and see a party lifestyle as a distraction.

The new generation is also more aware of the risks associated with alcohol, such as long-term health problems and addiction. They view drinking as a risky activity with few benefits, unlike previous generations, where not drinking was considered socially dangerous.

It’s unclear if these changes will continue into adulthood or if teenagers will eventually catch up with past generations. While alcohol use among high school students is declining, binge drinking remains common among young adults in New Zealand. Therefore, it is important to implement policies to address alcohol-related harm among young people.

The decline in youth drinking is a complex phenomenon with many contributing factors. Increased awareness of the risks of underage drinking, changing social norms, and a growing number of sober alternatives to alcohol have all affected the decline. The decline in youth drinking is a positive trend for public health and youth culture.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jude Ball, Michaela A. Pettie, Loleseti Poasa,et al. Understanding youth drinking decline: Similarity and change in the function and social meaning of alcohol use (and non-use) in adolescent cohorts 20 years apart. Drug & Alcohol Review. DOI:10.1111/dar.13685