What’s New About Adolescent Alcohol Use in the Nordic Countries?
A Report on Nordic Studies of Adolescent Alcohol Use Habits in 2000–2018
As of the turn of the millennium, alcohol use among adolescents in Nordic countries has been decreasing. The Nordic states share an alcohol policy which aims to reduce alcohol-related harm by limiting affordability, banning alcohol advertising and by restricting availability of alcohol through, for example, opening hours, pricing, and enforcing age limits. Looking at alcohol use habits among young people in the Nordic countries separately from those in other Western states may help to highlight developments of declining adolescent alcohol use that are similar and dissimilar in welfare states with restrictive alcohol policies and in other states.
It is important to look into adolescent alcohol use because it is connected to many types of harm, such as negative somatic and mental health outcomes, risky behaviour (such as unwanted or unsafe sex). Alcohol use is also a risk for accidents, violence, and victimisation. Harm can occur as a direct consequence of using alcohol or more indirectly as a consequence of a lifestyle where alcohol use is one part.
A systemic review of current scientific literature on adolescent alcohol use in the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
Youth alcohol use is lowest in Iceland and Norway, followed by Sweden and Finland. Denmark is the only exception with an average alcohol use higher than the average of the European region. However, alcohol use has increased in certain socioeconomically deprived groups. There should be more research on these developments and a potential polarisation of drinking.
Parents play a role in the trend for reduced alcohol use among adolescents in Nordic countries. Parents have become more restrictive in terms of alcohol use.
Reduced availability is also a significant factor contributing to this trend. The change in youth culture could be a contributing factor as alcohol is given less importance by youth except for in Denmark.
Research shows no significant relationship between adolescents substituting alcohol for cannabis. However youth perception is changing on cannabis to a more lenient view.
In conclusion, many factors such as economic, social, political and parental control will affect the future alcohol use of these generations of adolescents and whether future generations will continue this decreasing trend in alcohol use.