QUESTIONS UNDER STUDY: the main purpose of this longitudinal study was to determine the impact of risky single occasion drinking (RSOD) frequency on alcohol dependence and drinking consequences reported 15 months later.

METHODS: As a baseline sample, 5,990 young men were assessed on their drinking habits including the frequency of RSOD. Of them, 5,196 were reassessed at follow-up 15 months later on RSOD frequency, alcohol dependence and alcohol related consequences in thze interceding year. Drop out biases were investigated.

RESULTS: Around 45% of the baseline participants reported regular RSOD (every month or more frequently). Despite the fact that RSOD distribution was generally stable during the initial sample, 47.4% reported a variation of their RSOD frequency 15 months later. Around 25% of the sample reported reduced RSOD frequency. Nonetheless, occasional RS drinkers were more likely to become regular (monthly) RSO drinkers at follow up. Daily and weekly RSOD were associated with high proportions of alcohol dependence and detrimental consequences of drinking. Surprisingly, abstainers at baseline were more likely to be at risk of alcohol dependence and consequences at follow up than non-RSO drinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the fact that alcohol abstinence is logically the best way to avoid the detrimental consequences of alcohol drinking, abstainers at baseline reported as many problems due to alcohol use at follow up as occasional or monthly RSO drinkers. The few participants who had become RSO drinkers during the follow up period were indeed likely to engage in detrimental behaviour. Non-RSO drinkers had the fewest problems due to alcohol use. This substantiates the early occurrence of drinking consequences among inexperienced RSO drinkers.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Peer pressure (PP) has been shown to play a major role in the development and continuation of alcohol use and misuse. To date, almost all the studies investigating the association of PP with alcohol use only considered the PP for misconduct but largely ignored other aspects of PP, such as pressure for peer involvement and peer conformity. Moreover, it is not clear whether the association of PP with alcohol use is direct or mediated by other factors. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association of different aspects of peer pressure (PP) with drinking volume (DV) and risky single-occasion drinking (RSOD), and to explore whether these associations were mediated by drinking motives (DM).

METHODS: A representative sample of 5521 young Swiss men, aged around 20 years old, completed a questionnaire assessing their usual weekly DV, the frequency of RSOD, DM (i.e. enhancement, social, coping, and conformity motives), and 3 aspects of PP (i.e. misconduct, peer involvement, and peer conformity). Associations between PP and alcohol outcomes (DV and RSOD) as well as the mediation of DM were tested using structural equation models.

RESULTS: Peer pressure to misconduct was associated with more alcohol use, whereas peer involvement and peer conformity were associated with less alcohol use. Associations of drinking outcomes with PP to misconduct and peer involvement were partially mediated by enhancement and coping motives, while the association with peer conformity was partially mediated by enhancement and conformity motives.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that PP to misconduct constitutes a risk factor, while peer conformity and peer involvement reflect protective factors with regard to alcohol use. Moreover, results from the mediation analyses suggest that part of the association of PP with alcohol use came indirectly through DM: PP was associated with DM, which in turn were associated with alcohol use.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Heavy drinking is responsible for major health and social problems. Brief interventions have been shown to be effective, but there have been difficulties in reaching those who might benefit from them. Pilot studies have indicated that a Web-based intervention is likely to be acceptable to heavy drinkers and may produce some health benefits. However, there are few data on how many people might use such a program, the patterns of use, and potential benefits.

OBJECTIVES: The aim was to examine the demographic characteristics of users of a free, Web-based, 6-week intervention for heavy drinkers and to describe the methods by which users identified the site, the pattern of site use and attrition, the characteristics associated with completing the program, and the self-reported impact on alcohol-related outcomes.

METHODS: Cohort study. Visitors to the Web site were offered screening with the Fast Alcohol Screening Test, and those scoring above the cutoff for risky drinking were invited to register with the program. Demographic information was collected routinely at registration, and questionnaires were completed at the end of weeks 1 and 6. The outcome measures assessed dependency (Short Alcohol Dependency Data Questionnaire), harms (modified Alcohol Problems Questionnaire), and mental health (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure).

RESULTS: The records of 10,000 users were analyzed. The mean age was 37.4 years, 51.1% were female, 37.5% were single, and 42.4% lived with children. The majority were White British, lived in the United Kingdom, and reported occupations from the higher socioeconomic strata. Over 70% connected to the Down Your Drink (Down Your Drink) site from another Internet-based resource, whereas only 5.8% heard about the site from a health or other professional. Much of the Web site use (40%) was outside normal working hours. Attrition from the program was high, with only 16.5% of registrants completing the whole 6 weeks. For those who completed the program, and the final outcome measures, measures of dependency, alcohol-related problems, and mental health symptoms were all reduced at week 6.

CONCLUSIONS: The Web-based intervention was highly used, and those who stayed with the program showed significant reductions in self-reported indicators of dependency, alcohol-related problems, and mental health symptoms; however, this association cannot be assumed to be causal. Programs of this type may have the potential to reach large numbers of heavy drinkers who might not otherwise seek help. There are significant methodological challenges and further research is needed to fully evaluate such interventions.

Aims To examine country differences in reasons for abstaining including the association of reasons with country abstaining rate and drinking pattern. Participants Samples of men and women from eight countries participating in the GENACIS (Gender Alcohol and Culture: an International Study) project.

Methods Surveys were conducted with 3338 life-time abstainers and 3105 former drinkers. Respondents selected all applicable reasons for not drinking from a provided list. Analyses included two-level hierarchical linear modelling (HLM) regression.

Findings Reasons for abstaining differed significantly for life-time abstainers compared to former drinkers, by gender and age, and by country-level abstaining rate and frequency of drinking. Life-time abstainers were more likely than former drinkers to endorse 'no interest', 'religion' and 'upbringing' and more reasons overall. Gender differences, especially among former drinkers, suggested that norms restricting drinking may influence reasons that women abstain ('no interest', 'not liking taste') while drinking experiences may be more important considerations for men ('afraid of alcohol problems', 'bad effect on activities'). Younger age was associated with normative reasons ('no interest', 'taste', 'waste of money') and possibly bad experiences ('afraid of problems'). Reasons such as 'religion', 'waste of money' and 'afraid of alcohol problems' were associated with higher country-level rates of abstaining. Higher endorsement of 'drinking is bad for health' and 'taste' were associated with a country pattern of less frequent drinking while 'not liking effects' was associated with higher drinking frequency.

Conclusions Reasons for abstaining depend on type of abstainer, gender, age and country drinking norms and patterns.

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