Alcohol consumption among Swedish youth increased during the 1990s. In the following decade, levels declined coinciding with a reduction in the prevalence of self-reported alcohol-related harm. We examine how the trend in self-reported alcohol-related problems among young Swedish alcohol consumers has followed the trend in alcohol consumption during 1995-2012, and test whether the strength of the association between self-reported alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems within individuals is inversely proportional to the overall level of consumption among youth.
The study was based on a representative survey on alcohol and drug habits among ninth-year students, consisting of current alcohol consumers (n = 68 863), 1995-2012. Negative binominal regression models were used to estimate the relationship between three consumption variables (average volume of consumption, binge drinking and heavy drinking) and self-reported alcohol-related problems.
The prevalence of binge drinking showed a greater association with self-reported alcohol-related problems than did overall mean consumption. No noticeable variation in the strength of the individual-level alcohol and harm relationship was found over the study period. We found no significant interaction between the individual alcohol use measures and overall mean youth consumption.
We found no signs of normalization; on the contrary, young alcohol consumers suffer about the same number of self-reported negative consequences from their drinking, regardless of the level of overall youth consumption. The study also suggests that binge drinking rather than overall consumption is the main factor that influences the development of self-reported problems experienced among young alcohol consumers.
Young alcohol consumers suffer about the same number of self-reported negative consequences from their drinking, regardless of the level of overall mean consumption in the youth population. Binge drinking consumption appears to be the main factor influencing the development of self-reported alcohol-related problems among young alcohol consumers.