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National Statistics
Publication

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 [NS]

This is part of

National statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
England
Geographical granularity:
Regions
Date range:
01 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018

Part 7: Young people and alcohol: the context

This part sets the context for alcohol consumption among young people.

It includes:

  • drinking among other household members.
  • perceived parental attitudes to drinking.
  • pupils’ attitudes towards what is acceptable for someone of their own age.
  • beliefs about why people of their age drink alcohol.
  • perceptions of how many people of their age drink alcohol.
  • sources of helpful information about drinking.

 

Alcohol consumption by other household members

When last drank alcohol, by number of household members who drink alcohol

Pupils who lived with people who drank alcohol were more likely to drink alcohol themselves.

Only 2% of pupils who lived with only non-drinkers had drunk alcohol in the last week. 15% had ever drunk alcohol.

Among pupils who lived with three or more people who drank, the proportion who had drunk alcohol in the last week rose to 20%, and the proportion who had ever drunk was 67%.

Image showing when last drank alcohol, by number of household members who drink alcohol

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Attitudes to pupils’ drinking

Perceived parental disapproval of pupil drinking, by age

49% of pupils said their parents did not, or would not like them to drink alcohol.

Perceived parental disapproval of their drinking decreased as the age of pupils increased.

Image showing perceived parental disapproval of pupil drinking, by age

 

Perceived parental disapproval of pupil drinking, by number of drinkers pupil lives with

Pupils who lived with people who drank alcohol were less likely to say their parents do not or would not like them drinking; 23% of pupils who lived with three or more drinkers, rising to 80% of pupils who lived only with non-drinkers.

Image showing perceived parental disapproval of pupil drinking, by number of drinkers pupil lives with

Other groups where perceived parental disapproval of drinking was lower were among pupils who drank in the last week, those who were drunk in the last four weeks, and those who's family were aware that they drank alcohol (see tables 7.4, 7.7 and 7.9).

 

Pupils’ attitudes to drinking by people of the same age

Following a general decline in tolerance of drinking and getting drunk since 2003, the last 2 surveys indicate a slight relaxing of attitudes in recent years.

In 2018, 27% thought that it was OK to drink alcohol once a week, up from 24% in 2014 (though still down from 46% in 2003). 9% of pupils thought it was OK to get drunk once a week, up from 7% in 2014 (though down from 20% in 2003).

47% of 15 year olds thought it was OK to drink alcohol once a week, and 19% thought it was OK to get drunk once a week (see table 7.11).

Proportions for trying alcohol and trying to get drunk have followed similar trends to those described above.

Image showing pupils’ attitudes to drinking by people of the same age, by year

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Pupils’ beliefs and perceptions of drinking alcohol

Pupil perceptions of how many people of their own age drink alcohol, by year (15 year olds only)

In 2018, the proportion of 15 year olds who reported usually drinking at least a few times a year was 66%. 14% usually drank at least weekly.

52% of 15 year olds believed that most people their own age drink alcohol, with a further 21% saying about half.

18% of pupils significantly underestimated how many people their own age drink, believing that only a few or none did so. 

Perceptions for pupils of other ages and all pupils can be found in table 7.18.

Image showing perceptions of how many people of pupil’s age drink alcohol, 15 year olds only

 

Pupils beliefs about why people of their own age drink alcohol

Pupils could give more than one answer. 

The most commonly held belief among young people was that pupils of their own age drank to look cool in front of their friends (74%). Other common beliefs were because their friends pressured them into it (62%), to be more sociable with friends (61%), and because it gave them a rush or a buzz (60%).

Image showing beliefs about why people of pupil’s age drink alcohol

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Sources of helpful information about drinking

Sources from which pupils have obtained helpful information about drinking alcohol

Pupils could give more than one answer. 

A large proportion of young people (77%) considered their parents to be a source of helpful information about drinking alcohol.

Teachers were the most commonly identified helpful source of information outside of the family setting (by 62% of pupils).

In relation to different forms of media, TV and the Internet were the most popular sources of helpful information about drinking, with both identified by 57%. Social media was mentioned by 45% of pupils. 

Some sources, like friends, TV, the Internet and social media became more common as pupils got older (see table 7.21). 

Image showing sources from which pupils have obtained helpful information about drinking alcohol

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Family affluence

Last time drank alcohol, by family affluence score1

Pupils were more likely to have drunk alcohol, either in the last week or ever, if they had a higher family affluence score; 13% and 37% respectively for higher scoring pupils, compared with 7% and 27% for lower scoring pupils.

Image showing when last drank by family affluence score

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1. See Appendix B for family affluence scoring methodology.

For more data relating to this section:

Last edited: 13 August 2019 9:06 am