25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: The consumption of addictive substances is common in adolescence and raises concerns about future addiction. We investigated addictive substance consumption among young people to inform the design of drug intervention programmes.

METHODS: Participants were a population-based sample of 14- to 24-year-olds from Paredes, northern Portugal. A self-report questionnaire measured social and health variables, including tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug consumption. Results Data were analysed for 731 valid responses. Participants who had drunk alcohol did so first at 14.7 years (mean); 15.3% (95% confidence intervals [CI]: 12.9-18.1) drank alcohol regularly (more than 1/week, adjusted for age and sex) (95% CI: 12.9-18.1). Participants who had smoked tobacco did so first at 14.8 years (mean); 16.6% (95% CI: 14.0-19.5) were regular smokers. Illicit drug consumption was reported by 16.7% of participants (95% CI: 14.2-19.6) and 10.4% consumed drugs regularly.

CONCLUSION: We found a high prevalence of addictive substance consumption, particularly alcohol. As cultural attitudes likely influence alcohol consumption, a multigenerational approach is needed to address adolescent consumption. Participants' main sources of drug information were family members. Strategies are needed to promote drug literacy in parents and other relatives to change adolescents' culturally acquired habits of addictive substance consumption.

21 February 2020 In General Health

This article explores the contentious definition and communication of alcohol consumption limits and their relationship to ideas about risk through an analysis of the development of health education materials during the 1980s.

It argues that changing ideas about alcohol and risk, and their communication to the public, were a reflection of both specific developments in thinking about alcohol and the harm it could pose as well as broader shifts within public health policy, practice and outlook.

Risk was understood as something experienced by individuals and populations, a conceptual framing that suggested different approaches. To get to grips with these issues, the article focuses on: (1) the definition of alcohol consumption limits; (2) the communication of these limits; and (3) the limits to limits.

The problems experienced in defining and communicating limits suggests not only a ‘limit to limits’ but also to the entire notion of risk-based ‘sensible’ drinking as a strategy for health education.

22 June 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: In a survey taken in Germany in 2015, 14.1% of the 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed had practiced binge drinking at least once in the preceding 30 days. The school program "Klar bleiben" ("Keep a Clear Head") was designed for and implemented among 10th graders. The participants committed themselves to abstain from binge drinking for 9 weeks. We studied whether this intervention influenced the frequency and intensity of binge drinking.

METHODS: This cluster-randomized controlled trial was carried out in 196 classes of 61 schools, with a total of 4163 participants with a mean age of 15.6 years (standard deviation 0.73 years). Data were collected by questionnaire in late 2015, before the intervention and again six months later. The primary endpoints were the frequency of consumption of at least 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks (for girls and boys, respectively) and the typical quantity consumed. This trial was registered in the German Clinical Trials Registry (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien, DRKS) with the DRKS ID number DRKS00009424.

RESULTS: At the beginning of the trial, there was no difference between the intervention group and the control group with respect to the primary endpoints. After the intervention, differences were found among participants who had consumed alcohol before the trial (73.2% of the overall sample): binge drinking at least once in the preceding month was reported by 49.4% of the control group and by 44.2% in the intervention group (p = 0.028). The mean number of alcoholic drinks consumed in each drinking episode was 5.20 in the control group and 5.01 in the intervention group (p = 0.047).

CONCLUSION: The intervention was effective only in the large subgroup of adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol: they drank alcohol less often and in smaller amounts than their counterparts in the control group.

22 June 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

OBJECTIVE: Research on late-middle-aged and older adults has focused primarily on average level of alcohol consumption, overlooking variability in underlying drinking patterns. The purpose of the present study was to examine the independent contributions of an episodic heavy pattern of drinking versus a high average level of drinking as prospective predictors of drinking problems.

METHOD: The sample comprised 1,107 adults ages 55-65 years at baseline. Alcohol consumption was assessed at baseline, and drinking problems were indexed across 20 years. We used prospective negative binomial regression analyses controlling for baseline drinking problems, as well as for demographic and health factors, to predict the number of drinking problems at each of four follow-up waves (1, 4, 10, and 20 years).

RESULTS: Across waves where the effects were significant, a high average level of drinking (coefficients of 1.56, 95% CI [1.24, 1.95]; 1.48, 95% CI [1.11, 1.98]; and 1.85, 95% CI [1.23, 2.79] at 1, 10, and 20 years) and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking (coefficients of 1.61, 95% CI [1.30, 1.99]; 1.61, 95% CI [1.28, 2.03]; and 1.43, 95% CI [1.08, 1.90] at 1, 4, and 10 years) each independently increased the number of drinking problems by more than 50%.

CONCLUSIONS: Information based only on average consumption underestimates the risk of drinking problems among older adults. Both a high average level of drinking and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking pose prospective risks of later drinking problems among older adults.

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