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Publications: Data Visualisations

Regular drunkenness

Alcohol use among adolescents is common in many European and North American countries. It has been suggested that adults act as role models for drinking behaviour in many cultures. Alcohol may be perceived by young people as fulfilling social and personal needs, intensifying contacts with peers and initiating new relationships.

Alcohol use is nevertheless one of the major risk factors for morbidity and mortality worldwide and contributes to more than 60 different causes of ill health, constituting an enormous burden for individuals and societies.

Risky drinking during adolescence, including frequent drinking and drunkenness, is associated with adverse psychological, social and physical health consequences, including academic failure, violence, accidents, injury and unprotected sexual intercourse. Moreover, alcohol use can disrupt brain development in young people, particularly in the cortical region, which influences cognitive, emotional and social development.

Policy recommendations

Risky drinking and drunkenness in adolescence are often embedded in a high-risk lifestyle and have negative social, physical, psychological and neurological consequences reaching into adult life.

  • Higher prices and reduced availability are very effective in decreasing alcohol consumption by young people. Almost all European and North American countries currently have legal age limits on both off- and on-premises sales of alcohol. Legal purchase-age limits typically range from 16 to 21 years, but countries differ in the extent to which they are enforced.

  • Governments can take further steps to control the availability of alcohol by regulating the density of alcohol outlets and controlling the sales hours.

  • Real-time studies have shown that marketing can have an immediate and substantive impact on how much alcohol young people drink, and that this impact is even greater on heavier drinkers. Governments should restrict how, where and to whom alcohol can be marketed.

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