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J Adolesc Health. 1999 Jan;24(1):48-58.

Alcohol use beliefs and behaviors among high school students.

Author information

1
East York Health Unit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To identify specific alcohol use beliefs and behaviors among local high school students; to determine whether relationships exist between alcohol use and various sociodemographic and lifestyle behaviors; and to assist in the development and implementation of alcohol abuse prevention programs.

METHODS:

This cross-sectional study involved the completion of a questionnaire by 1236 Grade 9-13 students (86% response rate) from 62 randomly selected classrooms in three Canadian urban schools. Data analyzed here are part of a larger lifestyle survey.

RESULTS:

A total of 24% of students reported never having tasted alcohol, 22% have tasted alcohol but do not currently drink, 39% are current moderate drinkers, 11% are current heavy drinkers (five or more drinks on one occasion at least once a month), and 5% did not answer. Reasons stated most often for not drinking were "bad for health" and "upbringing," while reasons stated most often for drinking were "enjoy it" and "to get in a party mood." Student drinking patterns were significantly related to gender, ethnicity, grade, and the reported drinking habits of parents and friends. Older male adolescents who describe their ethnicity as Canadian are at higher risk for heavy drinking than students who are younger or female, or identify their ethnicity as European or Asian. Current heavy drinkers are at higher risk than other students for engaging in other high-risk behaviors such as drinking and driving, being a passenger in a car when the driver is intoxicated, and daily smoking.

CONCLUSIONS:

Heavy alcohol use in adolescents remains an important community health concern. Older self-described Canadian and Canadian-born male adolescents are at higher risk for heavy drinking. Current and heavy drinking rises significantly between Grades 9 and 12. Students who drink heavily are more likely to drink and drive, to smoke daily, and to have friends and parents who drink alcohol.

PIP:

1236 grade 9-13 students from 62 randomly selected classrooms in 3 Canadian schools in the Borough of East York, 1 of Metropolitan Toronto's 6 municipalities, were surveyed in December 1994 about their alcohol drinking beliefs and behaviors, and related lifestyle behaviors. Findings are based upon the analysis of data from 628 boys and 608 girls, of whom 799 were born in Canada. 24% of the students reported never having tasted alcohol, 22% had tasted alcohol but were not current drinkers, 39% were current moderate drinkers, 11% drank at least 5 drinks per occasion at least once per month, and 5% did not answer. The most often stated reasons for not drinking were family upbringing and the believed adverse effects of alcohol consumption upon health, while the most often stated reasons for drinking were because it is an enjoyable experience and to get into a party mood. Respondents' drinking patterns were significantly related to gender, ethnicity, grade, and the reported drinking habits of parents and friends. Older male adolescents who describe themselves as Canadian are more likely to drink heavily than are students who are younger or female, or self-identify as Asian or European. Current heavy drinkers are at greater risk than other students of engaging in other high-risk behaviors such as drinking and driving, riding with an intoxicated automobile driver, and smoking every day.

PMID:
9890365
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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