A new study carried out by Professor Christina Griffin, University of Bath, England, and team indicates that young people’s alcohol consumption in Britain seems to be levelling off. Extreme drinking and planned drunkenness is still perceived as the norm amongst young people, the researchers report.

Representations of binge drinking as a source of fun and an entertaining leisure activity, coupled with persistent media coverage of drunken celebrities have been key factors in making binge drinking a socially acceptable activity in the UK.

The linkage between alcohol and having fun is strengthened with adverts representing the ‘coolness’ of extreme drinking, as well as social networking websites that share images of drunken nights out.

In order to tackle the scourge of binge drinking, Prof. Griffin says “Top of my list would have to be to stop demonizing and making generalisations about young people and their drinking. We also need to listen and incorporate their views and perspectives.”

Professor Isabelle Szmigin, University of Birmingham, said “Although many young people recognise the damage that ‘drinking too much’ can do to their health, and the associated risks of physical and sexual assault, few view these as more than short term problems.”

“The study suggests a radical re-thinking of national alcohol policy is required which takes into account the social character of alcohol consumption and the identity implications for young people,” said Professor Chris Hackley, Royal Holloway University of London.

The research involved in-depth interviews with 89 young people in three UK regions over a period of three years and is part of the ‘Branded Consumption and Social Identification, Young People and Alcohol’ project under the ‘Identities and Social Actions’ programme (RES 148-25-0021). This research was graded as good.

Principal Investigator: Prof Christine Griffin, Psychology, University of Bath; and: Prof Isabelle Szmigin, The Business School, University of Birmingham; Dr Willm Mistral, Mental Health Research & Development Unit, University of Bath; Professor Chris Hackley, Management, Royal Holloway College, University of London; Research Assistants: Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell, Psychology, University of Bath; Dr David Clarke, The Business School, University of Birmingham. Placement Students, Louise Weale and Danielle Tynan, University of Bath.

The research was funded by The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK’s largest funding agency for research, data resources and postgraduate training related to social and economic issues.

Source – The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Written by Christian Nordqvist