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Hazardous alcohol use among Danish adolescents during the second wave of COVID-19: link between alcohol use and social life

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Background: Adolescent drinking has historically been closely linked to social events, and across many countries, students typically increase drinking rates when they transition to upper secondary school. COVID-19-related restrictions offered a unique possibility to examine how changes in social life impact adolescent drinking in the transition to upper secondary school. Aim: The current study investigated changes in hazardous alcohol use, social life and well-being among Danish first-year students (mean age = 16.8 years) during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic when restrictions gradually became more intensified. Methods: Data were collected at two time points among 352 Danish students in the first months of upper secondary school (August and November 2020). Multilevel regression models tested changes across time on past 30 days hazardous alcohol use (dependent variables). Separate models tested whether changes in alcohol use were related to gender, social interaction, loneliness and mental health. Results: During increased COVID-19-related restrictions in the second wave, students decreased the frequency and quantity of drinking (number of drinking days and binge drinking), which was associated with attending fewer parties. Students also reported less high-intensity drinking and fewer alcohol-related consequences. Students reported better mental health, but more students were affected by loneliness. Changes in mental health or loneliness were not related to reduced hazardous alcohol use. Conclusion: Our results provide evidence that alcohol use decreased among Danish students transitioning to upper secondary school during the COVID-19 pandemic when restrictions increased, thereby providing support for a close link between adolescent alcohol use and social life; this is an important frame that is relevant when designing interventions to promote healthier and less risky choices throughout the next phase(s) of the pandemic and in general.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Pages (from-to)127-145
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, adolescent, alcohol use, alcohol-related consequences, well-being

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