Page last updated: April, 2018

What is going on in underage drinking?

Alcohol use has decreased among Finnish adolescents in the past decade. A study using data from the Finnish European school survey project on alcohol and other drugs data 1999- 2015 assessed: (i) time trends in alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking (HED) and potential explanatory variables among adolescents; (ii) the relationship between trends of explanatory variables and trends in alcohol use and HED; and (iii) which of the explanatory variables can account for the temporal change in alcohol use and HED.

The analyses were based on European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs data collected from 15- to 16-year-old Finnish adolescents in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

The decline in alcohol use and HED among underage youth in Finland is associated with at least three factors: obtaining alcohol has become more difficult; parents know better than before where their children are, when they are out; and (iii) the risk attached to going out with friends drinking has decreased.

The authors say that formal policy measures and adults’ attitudes have probably affected the availability of alcohol for adolescents, and thus they partly explain the decline in youth drinking. This decline coincides with the introduction of new digital technologies, new forms of interaction within families and peer groups, and more conscientious teenagers. All these changes are not necessarily causes of the decline but are part of a similar broader change in adolescents’ lives.

Source: What is going on in underage drinking? Reflections on Finnish European school survey project on alcohol and other drugs data 1999-2015. Raitasalo K, Simonen J, Tigerstedt C, Mäkelä P, Tapanainen H. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2018 Mar 23.

doi: 10.1111/dar.12697

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