Culture greatly influences youths’ drinking patterns

September 23rd, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 23 (IANS) Drunkenness among youth may be intentional or unintended. Either way, it is greatly influenced by the country they inhabit, rather than any other factor, says a new book.Based on a study sponsored by the International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), the book also finds striking similarities about drinking among young people in different parts of the world.

For instance, their introduction to alcohol was typically by parents during a family celebration and its consumption was primarily associated with enjoyment and socialising, whether at parties, sporting events or in bars.

Countries included in the study were Brazil, China, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Britain, according to an Eurekalert report.

“Tragically, too many young people purposefully pursue drunkenness as a form of ‘calculated hedonism’ bounded by the structural and cultural factors that affect young people in different countries,” said Fiona Measham, co-editor of the book and criminologist at Lancaster University.

“We need to work to change this culture of extreme drinking,” said Marjana Martinic, co-editor and vice president for public health at ICAP. “We need to look at cultures in countries like Italy and Spain where moderate drinking is an ordinary, every-day part of family life.”

Research shows that rates of drunkenness and extreme drinking are significantly lower in the Mediterranean countries than in Northern European countries.

For example, 49 percent of Swedish 17-year-olds report having been drunk, compared with around 10 percent of Italian, French, and Greek youth.

“Changing the culture of extreme drinking requires looking beyond traditional responses and getting all relevant stakeholders involved,” concluded Martinic.

“This means governments, the public health community, the beverage alcohol industry, the criminal justice system, and civil society must have a role in reducing extreme drinking among young people.”

The book is called “Swimming with Crocodiles: The Culture of Extreme Drinking”.

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