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Curb the Pocket Money, Curb the Problem Drinking

Youths who receive more than 10 a week in spending money and who buy alcohol for themselves are more likely to become 'problem drinkers', a survey of over 10,000 teenagers reveals.

Mark A Bellis from Liverpool John Moores University and colleagues studied the results of an alcohol questionnaire given anonymously to 15-16 year old drinkers in North West England. Almost 90% admitted to drinking alcohol, of which 38% binged, 24% drank frequently and 50% drank in public.

Around a third bought their own alcohol, making them six times more likely to drink in public and more than twice as likely to binge and drink frequently than those who had alcohol bought for them. Amount of spending money, obtaining alcohol from friends, older siblings and adults outside shops were also predictors of risky drinking, according to the study published today in Online Open Access journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

Teenagers who were members of youth groups or who had alcohol bought for them by parents were more likely to drink sensibly, the study also revealed.

The authors highlight a number of potential interventions including limiting and monitoring young people's funds, upping the cost of alcohol, providing and promoting participation in sports and social activities, and identifying and closing all retailers selling to those underage.

Alcohol-related health and social problems amongst youths are an international problem, and these interventions are not expensive, complicated or difficult to implement, they say.


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