Alcohol Policies and Adolescent Drinking Behaviors

Is there a link between alcohol policies and adolescent drinking behaviors? For example, do strict policies reduce heavy drinking? What about so-called “binge” drinking?

Research Study

Researchers wanted to know. So they studied the matter among 15- and 16-year old youth in 40 European and North American countries. Data on drinking were from two sources. One was the Health Behavior in School-age Children survey. The other was the European School Survey Project.


alcohol policies and adolescent drinkingThe researchers found that higher prices and stronger alcohol controls were linked with less weekly drinking. But there was more drunkenness.

This isn’t surprising. In fact, it’s consistent with evidence from many other sources. When alcohol is difficult to get, drinking tend to be lower. On the other hand, harmful drinking tends to be higher.

For example, during U.S. prohibition people tended to drink less often. But when they had a chance to drink, they usually did so to excess. They wouldn’t go to a speakeasy to have a leisurely drink. To the contrary, they guzzled alcohol.

The researchers concluded that future studies should see if strict policies have any beneficial effect on drinking. Or if they instead increase “binge” drinking.

Resources: Alcohol Policies and Adolescent Drinking

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