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J Stud Alcohol. 2003 Mar;64(2):200-8.

Alcohol culture, family structure and adolescent alcohol use: multilevel modeling of frequency of heavy drinking among 15-16 year old students in 11 European countries.

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Department of Sociology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York 12222, USA.



Frequency of heavy alcohol use among adolescents is examined by family structure and propensity toward heavy alcohol use on the individual level, and by alcohol availability and drinking patterns among adolescents on the societal level. The analysis includes direct effects and moderating effects of societal-level indicators on individual-level associations between family structure and frequency of heavy alcohol use.


The study drew upon self-reports from 34,001 students in Cyprus, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom participating in the 1999 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs study. Distinctions were drawn between adolescents living with both parents, a single mother, a single father, a mother and stepfather, a father and stepmother, and neither biological parent. The multilevel analysis estimated the effects of societal-level factors on the intercepts and slopes of individual-level regression models.


Adolescents living with both biological parents engaged less frequently in heavy alcohol use than those living in any other arrangements. Living with a single mother was associated with less heavy drinking than living with a single father or with neither biological parent. National beer sales figures and societal patterns of heavy adolescent alcohol use predicted more frequent heavy drinking and greater effects of living in nonintact families.


Adolescent heavy drinking is more common in all types of nonintact families. The adverse effect of living in nonintact families is greater in societies where alcohol availability is greater and where adolescents drink more heavily.

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