What Is Going on in Underage Drinking? Reflections on Finnish European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs Data 1999–2015

Raitasalo, K, Simonen, J., Tigerstedt, C., Mäkelä, P. and Tapanainen, H.
Journal / Publication name: 
Drug and Alcohol Review

Introduction and Aims

As alcohol use has decreased among Finnish adolescents, we aim to assess: (i) time trends in alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking (HED) and potential explanatory variables among adolescents; (ii) the relationship between trends of explanatory variables and trends in alcohol use and HED; and (iii) which of the explanatory variables can account for the temporal change in alcohol use and HED.

Design and Methods

The analyses are based on European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs data collected from 15‐ to 16‐year‐old Finnish adolescents in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.


The decline in alcohol use and HED among underage youth in Finland is associated with at least three factors: (i) obtaining alcohol has become more difficult; (ii) parents know better than before where their children spend their Friday nights; and (iii) the risk attached to going out with friends on drinking has decreased.

Discussion and Conclusions

Formal policy measures and adults’ attitudes have probably affected the availability of alcohol for adolescents, and thus they partly explain the decline in youth drinking. This decline coincides with the introduction of new digital technologies, new forms of interaction within families and peer groups, and more conscientious teenagers. All these changes are not necessarily causes of the decline but are part of a similar broader change in adolescents’ lives.

Publishing year: 
Type of Document: 
Peer reviewed article/paper
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