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Adolescent Alcohol Abstainers: Traditional Patterns in New Groups

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We investigated young people in mid-adolescence who do not drink alcohol. These young people were at an age when alcohol consumption was about to become normative behaviour. The sample consisted of a total cohort (n = 3,424) of pupils enrolled in the 10th grade in the school system in Oslo, in the age group 16-17 years, of whom 16.8 percent had never drunk alcohol. Bivariate analyses revealed that nondrinkers often came from lower socio-economic strata and had family backgrounds with low levels of cultural capital. Logistic regression analyses suitable for clustered data with a hierarchical structure (MlwiN) revealed, however, that these associations disappeared when ethnicity was controlled for. Living area in Oslo had a significant impact on the probability of being an abstainer, and there was an independent effect of school attended. Furthermore, non-drinkers were often from non-western immigrant backgrounds. This association was particularly strong among immigrant girls. Muslims were often non-drinkers, and religion played an important role in the lives of the nondrinkers. However, the traditional temperance movement plays no part in this picture any more. We also found significant associations to weak social networks and perceived loneliness. On the other hand, we found that non-drinkers had significantly better mental health than the rest of the sample. Historically, alcohol abstainers in Norway have been recruited from the non-secularized and tradition-bound segments of society, and they have represented what has been labelled a 'morally religious lifestyle'. There is much to indicate that we still find such patterns - but now in totally new groups, namely the new non-western immigrants..
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2000

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