Alcohol-free lifestyle is found to create benefits for the whole community
A new and prize-awarded Swedish study shows: When more people choose to live free from alcohol, people in the community around them will use less alcohol as well.
There is a clear correlation between the number of people who choose to live alcohol free and the amount of alcohol consumed by those who choose to use alcohol. The more people who do not use alcohol, the less alcohol will be consumed by those who choose to use alcohol. These finding come from a study by PhD candidate at Karolinska Institute Jonas Raninen.
Raninen was awarded a prize at this months Kettil Bruun Society’s annual symposium for his research. The study provides evidence for what has long been considered intuitively, backed up by anecdotal evidence: alcohol consumption is a social behaviour in which the choices, habits and behaviour patterns of individuals influence the people and the community around them. Even those people with alcohol use disorders consume less when the total consumption in a society declines, which in turn leads to a reduction of alcohol-related harm.
The collectivity theory was introduced in the 1980s by the Norwegian scientist Ole-Jörgen Skog. It hypothesises that changes in alcohol consumption doesn’t take place on individual level but within larger groups. Skog conducted multiple studies that validated his theory but he limited his studies to those people who were consuming alcohol. That’s where Raninen took up the research, hypothesising that the theory should account for all people, even those who chose not to consume alcohol.
What his study now provides evidence for is that the more people who report that they haven’t used alcohol in the recent month, the fewer amounts of alcohol consumed are reported by those who say the used alcohol in the last 30 days. A 1% increase in the number of people not using alcohol, means a 2% reduction of alcohol consumption for those who used alcohol.
From an alcohol policy perspective this is crucial: measures that support people in not using alcohol – even if for a short period of one month – can have positive meaning for public health and well-being.
Study: Raninen, Ramstedt, Livingston: “To drink or not to drink. A study on the association between rates of non-drinkers and per drinker mean alcohol consumption in a population”