16- 24-year-olds are boozing less, but is the UK’s drinking culture really changing?

Going into university as a non-drinker, Saranda Sherifi struggled to meet people during freshers’ week. “Drinking was a massive part, to the extent that it was difficult to make friends,” she says, recalling a time she decided to go out to eat alone instead of going on a night out.

Despite Sherifi’s experience of feeling alienated, young people are drinking less booze. Almost 30 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds said they didn’t drink alcohol, according to a study by the journal BMC Medicine, which also found that the number of lifetime abstainers has increased from 9 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent in 2015.

Dubbed “generation sensible”, 16- to 24-year-olds are using less drugs, are less likely to smoke and are less likely to be arrested. This seems all the more strange given this cohort is expected to be the booziest of age groups: from rebellious teenagers to freshers attending university parties, to twenty-somethings enjoying their glory years before real hangovers start to kick in and you’re frowned at for drinking warm cans in parks.

“The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable,” says the study’s lead researcher, Dr Linda Ng Fat. From austerity to religion, the reasons for teetotalism among young people vary, with the BMC study admitting that the underlying factors driving the increased number of abstainers are “unknown”.

Sherifi “didn’t have a taste for alcohol”, but for others like Aida, also a student, the decision was health-driven. “I’m very conscious of the impact it is going to have on my health,” she says. “If I can minimise the nasty habits in my youth and feel the benefits in my older …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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