Page last updated: September 28, 2012

A positive choice: Young people who drink little or no alcohol

A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation,  ‘What shapes the lives of young non-drinkers in the UK?’ examined the lives of young people who drink little or no alcohol, and found that:
- getting drunk is not an automatic rite of passage for young people;
- young people who drink little or no alcohol tend to prefer activities where drinking alcohol rarely plays a role;
- the immediate effects of drinking alcohol (e.g. hangovers) concern young people more than longer-term health effects.
The report recommends that ‘alcohol education and advice aimed at young people and their parents should present the option of not drinking as a valid choice. Choosing to drink little or no alcohol needs to be highlighted as commonplace and information on strategies used successfully by young people who do not drink or drink lightly needs to be available.
There should be more opportunities for young people to socialise without alcohol, or without it being the focus of the event. Further and higher education institutions can play a role in providing such opportunities and ensure that bars stock a wide array of soft drinks that are attractively priced and actively promoted.
Such steps would help support individuals who choose not to drink and foster a culture where heavy drinking is not seen as essential to a good night out. For such changes to be effective, they would need to be replicated widely and be part of broader efforts to shift social and cultural attitudes and perceptions’.

The full and summary reports are available at and
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