Alcohol Policies & Adolescent Drinking Patterns in Europe and North America

This very large study examined the relationship between alcohol control and policy measures and patterns of drinking, including “binge” drinking, among 15- and 16-year old adolescents in 40 European and North American countries.

Data on drinking were from the 2006 Health Behavior in School Children survey and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs.

The researchers found a clear trend of higher prices and stronger alcohol controls being associated with a lower proportion of weekly drinking but a higher proportion of drunkenness, although it did not reach a significant statistical level.

The investigators conclude that “It is important that future research explores the causal relationships between alcohol policy measures and alcohol consumption patterns to determine whether strict policies do in fact have any beneficial effect on drinking patterns, or rather, lead to rebellion and an increased prevalence of binge drinking.”

This is consistent with evidence from many sources that when alcohol is difficult to obtain legally, consumption levels tend to be lower but that “binge” or heavy episodic drinking, along with alcohol related problems, tend to be higher.

Note: This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol or any other matter and none should be inferred.

Resources

  • Gilligan, C., et al. Adolescent drinking patterns across countries: associations with alcohol policies. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2012, ePub, DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/ags083, PMID: 22805348.

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