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Scand J Public Health. 2004;32(5):361-7.

Adolescent alcohol use, psychological health, and social integration.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Bergen, Norway.



Alcohol use and intoxication are highly prevalent among adolescents and may be an important element of the socialization process in the teenage years. Significant short- and long-term health consequences seem evident. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption and several aspects of psychological health and social integration in adolescents.


The study is based on data from a 1997 cross-sectional survey of 828 Norwegian tertiary school students in Forde (91% of all students). Three hundred and eighty (46%) were female. The majority of students were aged 20 or younger, with 64% aged 15-17. Four groups were defined according to frequency of alcohol intoxication. Emotional health and social integration in the four groups are reported as means and the differences from the reference groups (with 95% confidence limits) were estimated. Control of confounding and interaction was performed.


The study reveals that alcohol intoxication is an established element of mid-teenage behaviour for both sexes. It was found that depressive complaints and psychosomatic problems increased with increasing frequency of intoxication. Alcohol use is not only associated with improving friendship quantity but also with an improved quality of friendships. Heavy consumers report greater problems with relations with school and with their parents, especially in early adolescence.


Though adolescents with moderate and heavy alcohol consumption are more sociable with friends, abstainers and light drinkers appear emotionally healthier. They succeed to a greater extent in a wide variety of social arenas, particularly in comparison with heavy consumers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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