PRC Resources

Where Underage Drinking Occurs Related to Drinking Problems

A recent study of teenagers in California examined problems experienced by underage drinkers and how those problems are related to where they drink. The study, carried out by the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, surveyed 473 youths (ages 15-18) residing in 50 medium-to-large California cities. Respondents provided information about past-year alcohol-related problems in three domains (physiological consequences, alcohol-related violence, and conflict/trouble) and the number of times in the past year they drank alcohol in 6 different contexts (parties, restaurants/bars, parking lots/street corners, beaches/parks, respondent’s home without parents, someone else’s home without parents).

Physiological problems (e.g., vomiting because of drinking; not being able to remember what happened while drinking; and having a hangover or feeling sick the day after drinking) were associated with more frequent drinking in all contexts, expect for beaches and parks. Heavier drinking in restaurants/bars/nightclubs and someone else’s home without parents was associated with greater risk of violence, such as fights. Conflict/trouble (such as getting into trouble with parents or guardians or with police because of drinking) was associated with more frequent drinking in parking lots/street corners, declining at higher levels of drinking.

These results indicate a need to consider what occurs within drinking contexts (besides alcohol consumption) that might lead to alcohol-related problems among youth. Identifying the situational factors, such as party size, presence of adults, and location of parties in secluded areas, that contribute to risk is an important next step. For example, the increased chance of conflict/trouble in areas such as parking lots and street corners may be because this is a type of location that police monitor for adolescent drinking; where youth drinking is more visible and likely to attract attention of authorities; or because this is a drinking context largely used by youths who are likely to have contentious relationships with their parents.

The researchers conclude that certain drinking contexts are related to problems among youths, some because they are associated with frequent alcohol consumption and others because they are associated with heavier drinking. Identifying which drinking contexts are related to specific alcohol-related problems and why is an essential component of developing effective preventive interventions.

Source: Adolescent Drinking Risks Associated with Specific Drinking Contexts.
Christina Mair, Sharon Lipperman-Kreda, Paul J Gruenewald, Melina Bersamin and Joel Grube, Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 07/2015; DOI:10.1111/acer.12806