Photo by Stephen Arnold on Unsplash
Last month I got to deliver a lunchtime talk to staff at Cardiff University about the change in attitudes to alcohol amongst young people. I find this topic fascinating because having spent 10 years working in the field of drug and alcohol addiction before starting my own business I'm noticing how much has changed in relation to alcohol.
'The proportion of 16-24-year-olds who are teetotal increased by more than 40% between 2005 and 2013. Today, 1 in 5 is teetotal.'
'Binge drinking among young adults fell from 29% to 18% between 2005 and 2013 and fell from 25% to 19% among those aged 25 to 44.'
Office for National Statistics 2015
I think this is quite exciting and shows that the new generation of young people are very different to previous ones. I have definitely noticed this in my work with young people too. I feel that they are far less interested in getting drunk and seem to spend more time with their families or have friends around to the house for 18th and 21st birthday parties, which is very different to when I was 18!
Why are they turning their backs on the booze?
Well the research is showing a few reasons, but as this is a fairly recent shift they are not completely sure. The most plausible 3 reasons are - alcohol is less affordable, better parenting styles and a change in attitude to alcohol. Clearly alcohol is an expensive option now and so people go out less to drink and I have noticed that young people will save for a special night out once a month instead of going every weekend. Parents are less likely to drink and get drunk in front of their kids now, and are more aware of their kids whereabouts with phones etc, meaning kids are more monitored now than before. The most interesting one for me is the change in attitude, as I spent a lot of my time in the drug/alcohol service awareness raising and educating young people about alcohol and I think that this information is starting to reach younger people. It is definitely not as cool to be drunk as it was before, there is a huge rise on social media of 'clean living' and health conscious influences, where young people are wanting to exercise, eat well and take care of their bodies and alcohol doesn't fit that image. Take a look at the likes of Jo Wicks body Coach and GracefitUK
So how are they partying without the hangover?
More places are offering alternative ways to have fun and party without getting hammered. There are healthy bars and cafes serving good food and mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like the Redemption Bar in London and plenty of sober dance parties across the country, especially in the morning so you can start the day with a big smile on your face! My favourite one is Morning Gloryville where you can rave your way into the day without the 3 day hangover!
So if you're a parent this should be music to your ears and I also think as adults we can learn a thing or two from the kids. For me it's all about choice and having options available that help us do the things that really make us happy (like really happy). Don't get me wrong, I'm not teetotal and I like a drink now and again, and this is not about me lecturing anyone to stop drinking, but this quote from Catherine Salway, Founder of the Redemption Bar, London sums it up for me.....
'If you want people to do the right thing, you don't tell them to do the right thing. You make the right thing a cool, sexy thing to do'
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you make of these trends? Are you noticing changes in young people's attitudes to alcohol? Has your relationship with alcohol changed over time?