Trends in drinking habits among Finnish adolescents from 1977 to 1999
Aims. Trends in adolescent drinking habits in Finland from 1977 to 1999 are studied with special attention to the onset of problem use and gender differences. Design and setting. Biennial cross-sectional mailed surveys (Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey). Participants. Representative samples of 12, 14, 16 and 18-year-olds. The number of respondents varied from 2832 to 8390 and the response rate from 88% to 76%. Measurements. The frequencies of alcohol use and perceived drunkenness obtained from self-administered questionnaires. Findings. Alcohol use remained rare among 12-year-olds. The overall trends in the frequencies of alcohol use and drunkenness increased considerably over time among the 14-18-year-olds. Age-adjusted monthly drunkenness among 14, 16 and 18-year-olds rose from 13% (1981) to 27% (1999) among boys and 6% to 22% among girls. Throughout the study period, the drinking style among boys became more drunkenness-orientated with age, but the opposite was true among girls. Birth cohort investigation showed that the onset of drunkenness moved towards an earlier age. Earlier onset predicted higher prevalence of problem use at the age of 18. Boys developed a regular pattern of drunkenness steadily increasing between ages 14-18 while among girls the increase of drunkenness started to level off between ages 16 and 18. Conclusions. Alcohol use among 12-year-olds remained rare, but became more prevalent and drunkenness-orientated among 14-18 year-olds. Gender differences in problem use diminished. Nevertheless, notable differences persist in the onset and development of drunkenness-orientated use.
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