Traditionally, non-drinking adults or young adults have been associated with health deficits rather than health benefits. However, as the proportion of Swedish non-drinking adolescents has doubled since 2000, their health profiles are of interest. The aim of the present study is to examine whether social relations, school characteristics, lifestyle factors or health behaviours distinguish adolescent non-drinkers from adolescent drinkers, and if their health profiles have changed from 2004 to 2012.
Design and methods
Data from the Survey of Adolescent Life in Vestmanland, a health survey biennially distributed to all 9th graders (15-16 years) in a medium-sized Swedish county, was used. In total, 2872 students in 2004 and 2045 students in 2012 were included.
Non-drinkers were distinguished from drinkers in both 2004 and 2012 by elevated parental supervision, a lower rate of school truancy and lower rates of cannabis use, use of other illicit drugs, daily smoking and lower scores on antisocial behaviour, but more problems of getting new friends. No differences between 2004 and 2012 were found.
Discussion and conclusions
Non-drinkers presented more adaptive and healthier behaviours than their drinking peers, but it is difficult to determine whether their health benefits were related to their improved alcohol status or to the more general trend towards adaptation that occurred from 2004 to 2012 among adolescents.