The study assessed 752 young adults (ages 18–23 at screening) living in the Seattle, WA area. For two years the researchers collected data on the participants’ past month alcohol use and consequences, social motives for alcohol use, friendship importance, and dating/relationship status.
Analysis of this data found that, casual dating was linked with alcohol use.
- Participants who reported more months of casual dating reported greater alcohol use and consequences on average.
- Relative to casual dating months, participants reported less alcohol use during months they were single or in a relationship and fewer consequences during months in a relationship.
The idea is to understand whether young adults may be viewing alcohol as a way to facilitate relationships. They may think of alcohol as a way to make hanging out easier or more fun,” said Jennifer Duckworth, lead researcher of the study as per Partnership to End Addiction.
The study shows that there is a pervasive alcohol norm among youth regarding dating. The alcohol norm that alcohol facilitates romantic/sexual relationships is driving youth to have more alcohol since these relationships are of particular importance at this age.
Targeting this alcohol norm would be an effective method to reduce alcohol use among young adults. Alternative alcohol-free environments and beverages have scope in this area since they provide for social environments which are healthy and inclusive.