Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Drinking in the UK: An exploration of trends

jrf-alcoholThe JRF have published a paper about drinking in the UK. Looking at the executive summary they say the following about young people’s drinking:

Trends were similar for England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The prevalence of ‘ever’ drinking decreased in boys and girls aged 8 to 15 years in England from 2002 to 2007.

They then go on to look at the frequency and amounts that young people are drinking and say:

The trends suggest that, in both girls and boys from 8 to 15 years old, there has been a recent decline in the prevalence of weekly drinking in England, Scotland and Wales. The reductions were more marked in older age groups…

In England average units of alcohol consumed by pupils aged 11 to 15 years have increased from 1990 to 2007. The increase is found in 14- and 15-year-old boys and girls. For 11 to 13 years olds there was a slight decrease in 2007 from a peak in 2006.

They go on to warn that there has been a change in the way that units are calculated and as a result it will take a few years to be able to tell whether the decrease is sustained.

The paper recommends:

Greater knowledge of the influence of the family on drinking is needed. More research is required on the socialisation of drinking in young people, paying attention to gender and age. For example, what do parents of young people perceive to be acceptable in terms of quantity and frequency of drinking at different ages? When and why do parents and family members provide alcohol to their children? What guidelines do they expect their children to follow in terms of drinking behaviour and how do they enforce those guidelines?

In terms of policy they suggest:

Evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce risk drinking in young people are required. Several Cochrane Systematic Reviews have identified the importance of developing appropriate social norms and skills, and the role of parents in supporting this (Faggiano et al., 2005; Foxcroft et al., 2002; Gates et al., 2006).

There’s much more detail in the body of the report, much of which will be familiar to regular readers of this blog.

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Filed under: alcohol

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