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12 April 2016
The Drinkaware Monitor, an Ipsos MORI survey of young people and their parents’ drinking attitudes and behaviours*, finds that more than four in ten (44%) 10-17 year olds who have ever had an alcoholic drink, do so (at least some of the time) to help cheer themselves up when in a bad mood, feel less nervous or depressed, or forget about their problems**. Two fifths (40%) of young people who drink for these reasons drink at least once a week, which is more than twice the national average (19%) for their age*.
There has been an encouraging downward trend in underage drinking in the UK in recent years with the number of 11-15 year olds who have drunk a whole alcoholic drink at least once dropping to 38% in 2014 from 61% in 2003***.
Despite this, The Drinkaware Monitor shows that more than half (53%) of young people who report low mental wellbeing have ever had an alcoholic drink, compared with 36% of those who report high mental wellbeing****.
Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware says: “Our research shows that some young people are drinking to cope with emotional problems including anxiety or depression, feelings which can be more difficult to deal with during the holiday season.
“At this time of year, when alcohol is more prevalent young people may feel more pressure to drink. Many of us think our children hardly listen to a word we say, but we want to remind parents that they are actually the main source of information about alcohol for their children. It’s never too early to talk to your children about the risks of underage drinking which is why we are encouraging parents to have the ‘alcohol chat’ and to remind young people that they will not be alone if they choose not to drink.”
Lucie Russell, Director of Campaigns and Media at UK charity YoungMinds says: “This report shows that young people who are struggling may be more likely to drink alcohol than those who are feeling contented and happy. With the festive season approaching it is important that we acknowledge that for some young people this can be an emotionally difficult time of year. It can bring on feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as social pressure to conform, party and have a drink or two.
“It is important that children and young people who are struggling are supported by those around them, peers, parents and carers as well as professionals to navigate choices around alcohol and their wellbeing. Our helpline for parents who are worried about a child or young person is free to call and can offer advice and support for parents and carers.”
More information and advice on talking to your child about alcohol.
Parents worried about a child or young person can get free advice and support from YoungMinds or contact their helpline on 0808 802 5544.
Between 17th November and 10th December 2014, Ipsos MORI conducted a quota survey among a representative sample of UK residents, including:
Among these, 323 individuals aged 10-17 had ever had an alcoholic drink (not just a sip).
The fieldwork was conducted through an online panel. The data were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade to reflect the UK population profile.
After completing a full survey on their own drinking habits, parents were asked four additional questions about their attitudes to young people and alcohol, and about the drinking habits of one child in their household.
Young people were surveyed with parental consent, but (as far as it is known) without parental participation. They were asked about their attitudes to, and experiences of alcohol, and about their sources of information on drinking.
The majority (70%) of young people were recruited through a parent who had already completed the adults’ survey and parents’ questions. This allows us to look at children’s drinking patterns in relation to their parents.
The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale was funded by the Scottish Executive National Programme for improving mental health and well-being, commissioned by NHS Health Scotland, developed by the University of Warwick and the University of Edinburgh, and is jointly owned by NHS Health Scotland, the University of Warwick and the University of Edinburgh.