Home > Does the decline in Swedish adolescent drinking persist into early adulthood?

Kraus, Ludwig and Loy, Johanna K and Olderbak, Sally and Trolldal, Björn and Ramstedt, Mats and Svensson, Johan and Törrönen, Jukka (2023) Does the decline in Swedish adolescent drinking persist into early adulthood? Addiction, 119, (2), pp. 259-267. doi: 10.1111/add.16342.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.16...

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Sweden has experienced a substantial decrease in adolescent drinking over the past decades. Whether the reduction persists into early adulthood remains unclear. Using survey data, the present study aimed to determine whether reductions in indicators of alcohol use observed among adolescents remain in early adulthood and whether changes in alcohol intake are consistent among light/moderate and heavy drinkers.

DESIGN: Data from the Swedish monthly Alcohol Monitoring Survey (2001-20) were used to construct five 5-year birth cohorts (1978-82, 1983-87, 1988-92, 1993-97 and 1998-2002).

PARTICIPANTS: A total of n = 52 847 respondents in Sweden (48% females) aged 16 and 30 years were included in this study.

MEASUREMENTS: For both males and females, temporal changes in the prevalence of any drinking, the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and total alcohol intake in the past 30 days in centilitres were analysed.

FINDINGS: The prevalence of any drinking in more recent cohorts remained low until young people came into their early (females) and mid- (males) 20s. Male cohorts differed in the prevalence of HED across age, with the later cohorts showing lower odds than earlier cohorts (odds ratios between 0.54 and 0.66). Among females, no systematic differences between cohorts across age could be observed. Later male birth cohorts in light/moderate drinkers had lower alcohol intake than earlier cohorts (correlation coefficients between -0.09 and -0.54). No statistically significant cohort effects were found for male heavy drinkers. Although differences in alcohol intake among females diminished as age increased, the cohorts did not differ systematically in their level of alcohol intake.

CONCLUSIONS: In Sweden, the reduced uptake of drinking in adolescents appears to fade as people move into adulthood. Observed reductions in alcohol intake among light and moderate drinkers appear to persist into adulthood. More recent male cohorts show a lower prevalence rate of heavy episodic drinking.

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