Why do young people drink alcohol? New research reveals all

why do young people drinkResearch body Ipsos MORI have recently released research around young people in the UK’s behaviour and attitudes towards drinking, on behalf of national alcohol charity Drinkaware. The report surveyed over 750 young people aged 11-17 over a period of about a month.

You can read the full report in this PDF. In the meantime, here are some parts of the report that we find particularly interesting:

1. Why do you drink?

Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. A third of respondents had said that they felt ‘encouraged by others’ to drink alcohol, with most of them saying the encouragement came from friends and older friends. 7 percent said they were encouraged to drink by a parent or relative.

A bar chart showing the results for the question 'why do you drink?'

Drinking for coping reasons, says the research, is linked to potentially harmful drinking patterns, and 40% of respondents who had drunk alcohol said they did it at least once a week. This compares to only 18% of young people overall who drink at least once a week.

Also troubling is that 57% of respondents said they drank for reasons of conformity, i.e. to ‘fit in’. Young people must be helped to develop the confidence and skills to make their own decisions regardless of what the crowd is doing, particularly in a culture such as the UK’s where drinking alcohol is encouraged.

2. Where do you get information about alcohol?

Parents continue to be the biggest source of information for young people when it comes to alcohol. Perhaps most surprising from this data is that only a relatively small amount said that they had gotten information from the internet (or a magazine or book, whatever those are.)

The researchers write that according to the data, those young people who drink harmfully and those with poorer mental well-being are more likely to have sought advice and information.bar chart showing where young people get info about alcohol

3. How often do you get drunk?

What’s interesting about this chart is that despite several media articles saying that young people are now less likely to drink than their parents, the data from 2013 to 2014 shows greater prevalence of drunkenness.

bar chart showing how often young people get drunk

In fact, more recently 10-17 year olds are more than twice as likely to be drunk once a week compared to 2013. Meanwhile, only 46% of respondents report not being drunk at all in the past 4 weeks, which is an all-time low over the past 3 years.

Having said that, the number of 10-17 year olds who have reported being drunk twice or more in the past week has remained steady since 2013.

4. What negative consequences do you experience through drinking?

Of special interest to Fast Forward (and other youth work charities, no doubt) is the level of risk that young people are exposed to, or expose themselves to, when alcohol is involved. According to this research, 10% of young people had done something which they identified as ‘risky’ once a month or less often.

8% had been in a fight as a result of alcohol, and 8% had been made to ‘look bad’ on social media the next day. Meanwhile, almost one in ten had engaged in sexual activity as a result of drinking alcohol – which is disconcerting considering that all respondents were between the ages of 10 – 17.

chart showing negative consequences of drinking on young people

For a more in-depth read of young people’s attitudes and behaviours surrounding alcohol, be sure to read the Drinkaware report in full.




















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