May 2021 

A new study published in the journal Health & Place in March, 2021 explored how neighborhood and social network characteristics are related to adult binge alcohol use. They found that higher social cohesiveness reduces the likelihood of binge alcohol use. In unsafe, disorderly neighborhoods with low cohesion more interconnected social networks led to lower binge alcohol use.

new study published in the journal Health & Place in March, 2021 explored how neighborhood and social network characteristics are related to adult binge alcohol use.

The study utilized online surveys from adults ages 30 to 80 years, drawn randomly from the RAND American Life Panel. Key findings are as follows:

  • Living in a highly cohesive neighborhood reduces the likelihood of binge alcohol use;
  • In safe and orderly neighborhoods, people with more interconnected social networks are more likely to consume alcohol “socially” and consume heavily in these occasions, regardless of cohesiveness.
  • However, neighborhood and network factors control how often a person might binge on alcohol. This is possibly through neighbors checking up on each other.
  • In disordered, unsafe communities that are lacking cohesion, neighborhood factors lose their overall impact. In such neighborhoods people with more interconnected social networks are less likely to engage in binge alcohol use.


For more

youthdrinkingYouth drinking declines: What have we learned? (NDARC-2021)

Some Take Aways from this Overview

Review of surveys and data sets analysed between 2001-2018 revealed,

  • Average @ 60% decrease in numbers of teens underage drinking
  • Average @ 35% decrease in young adult drinking 18-29 y.o. demographic
  • Significant increase in teenagers not drinking at all by approximated 50%
  • Teens drinking at risky levels also reduced by about 50%

Why these shifts?

Some contributing factors are (none are silver bullets and all mostly small, not significant influencer)

  1. Young people attitudes shift in concerns that alcohol causes most deaths and harms in their community and demographic (again consistent public health messaging taking effect)
  2. Smaller generation gap issue. Changing family dynamics, warmer parenting with more quality and quantity time, which consequently facilitates greater supervision and expectation about teen activity and where abouts. Better modelling by parents around alcohol use, including frequency and intensity changes. (Icelandic model reflects much of this)
  3. Shifting attitudes to alcohol and teen reactions against previous heavy drinking cohorts.
  4. Increasing focus on health and fitness – young people want to focus on study and success and see drinking as taking away from ability to do that…Once into young adult hood, can ‘let hair down’ a bit more. Alcohol increasingly more associated with poor health and health outcomes both short and long term.  Short term diminished capacity for study due being sick is increasingly seen as a liability. Again, growing community awareness of these realities e.g. cancer, mental health etc, may also drive this attitude.
  5. Changing patterns in leisure – Online based activities may mean a significant reduction in the peer proximity contagion e.g. not congregating with friends in public or private spaces and engaging in boredom and peer pressure initiated drinking. Online
  6. Policy changes – Policy didn’t seem to drive change, more reflect it, but the combination of both attitude and legislation brings weight to bear in culture shift, e.g secondary supply laws, alcohol pop tax etc. Cultural position of alcohol is shifting. Not so much the central amenity
  7. Other – Shift to other substances? This research seems to think this is not so, as a other risky behaviours seem to follow the same trajectory – Authenticity in being and relating. Teens are communicating they find non-drinking peers more ‘real and supportive’ and easier to forge genuine intimacies with. Surveillance – the advent of ‘instant recording and sharing’ via social media technologies, this both adds to the volume and frequency of ‘live’ negative harms/consequences of alcohol use, but also vulnerabilities to exposure to ridicule, blackmail or sabotaging future opportunities.

Dalgarno Institute: Further Reflections

Culture shift on any level requires multiple factors and as we have argued continuously for decades, education and legislation work far more effectively to shift both societal attitudes and culture, than simply education alone.

Consistency in both messaging, practice and modelling in an all-of-society context is also vital for culture shift to occur. The avoidance of contradictions or confusion in messages and models, as well as in policies and practices is imperative if we are to avoid the undermining of protective and preventative measures for the emerging generation – our children.  Any contradictions of messaging and modelling in the public square only creates the cognitive dissonance and inertia in proactive best proactive public health change that the broader society is mandated to bring to the young – The future generations that it is charged for providing the best opportunity to grow strong, healthy and productively in every area of development.   

This must include…

This study found that 22% of the children in the sample had sipped alcohol. Beer was the most frequently sipped and the beverage originally belonged to the father.

The study concludes that, providing sips of alcohol to children is associated with them having more favorable expectations about alcohol use.

RELEASE DATE: 01/04/2021

The Association Between Child Alcohol Sipping and Alcohol Expectancies in the ABCD Study

Abstract – Background: Underage alcohol use is a serious societal concern, yet relatively little is known about child sipping of alcohol and its relation to beliefs about alcohol. The current study aimed to (1) examine the contexts in which the first sip of alcohol occurs (e.g., type of alcohol, who provided sip, sip offered or taken without permission); (2) examine the association between sipping and alcohol expectancies; and (3) explore how different contexts of sipping are related to alcohol expectancies. This study expected to find that children who had sipped alcohol would have increased positive expectancies and reduced negative expectancies compared to children who had never sipped alcohol.

Methods: Data were derived from the 2.0 release of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a longitudinal study of children in the United States. The present study utilized data from 4,842 children ages 9–11; 52% were male, 60% were White, 19% were Hispanic/Latinx, and 9% were Black/African American.

Results: This study found that 22% of the sample had sipped alcohol. Children reported sipping beer most frequently, and the alcoholic beverage most often belonged to the child’s father. It was found that children who had sipped had higher positive alcohol expectancies than children who had not while accounting for variables related to alcohol expectancies. Child sipping was not significantly associated with negative expectancies and the context of the first sip of alcohol was not significantly associated with positive and negative expectancies.

Conclusions: Providing sips of alcohol to children is associated with them having more favorable expectations about alcohol use.

 For complete research

Adverse Childhood Experiences are traumatic circumstances or events that occur during childhood. Research that has examined ACEs has pointed to the link between these traumatic events in childhood and the increased risk of negative physical and mental health outcomes throughout the life course. Additionally, there has been research to suggest that children who have been exposed to trauma may be at greater risk of developing problems, such as alcohol and drug use, later on in life.

ISSUP (International Society of Substance Use Professionals) Resource List