Did you go to university or start smoking in your teens? Then you’re more likely to be a heavy drinker
Study looked at the drinking habits of 30,000 people across Britain
Female students found to be more likely to drink heavily after university
Deprived backgrounds made people more likely to drink above guidelines
Shows gateway to alcohol abuse is ‘more varied than previously thought’
Source: Daily Mail
By Kate Pickles
9 May 2016
Young people – particularly women – are more likely to drink heavily if they went to university or became a smoker in their teenage years, new research has revealed.
The study looked at how smoking while young and further education affected alcohol consumption.
It found the gateway to alcohol abuse was more varied than previously believed.
Researchers found those from a more deprived background were more likely to smoke and less likely to enter higher education.
Teenage smokers were also more likely to drink weekly at that age and more heavily in early adulthood.
But those who went to college or university were also more likely to drink heavily in early adulthood, researchers from the University of Glasgow found.
More independence – being free from parental control – combined with being other young people – could be to blame, the researchers suggest.
‘What this study shows are the different pathways – smoking and higher education – into heavy drinking, depending on young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds, said Dr Michael Green.
‘These opposing pathways might help explain why previous research on inequalities in young people’s drinking has had inconsistent results.
‘It appears heavy drinking in early adulthood is more likely for both adolescent smokers and those who go to university or college.
‘That would suggest the pathways to heavy drinking are more varied and opposing than had been previously thought.’
The study of about 30,000 people examined the link between socio-economic background and alcohol consumption.
Heavy drinking was measured as more than 14 units a week for women or 21 for men.
This is the equivalent of about a bottle-and-a-half of wine or seven pints of beer respectively.
Dr Green said drinking alcohol could be a response to the transition of going to university and how much students see their peers drinking could affect what they perceived as ‘normal’.
Researchers believe the study may have implications for how drinking concerns are targeted and tackled in young people.
Dr Green said: ‘Currently interventions focused only on heavy drinking in universities/colleges are targeting a more advantaged population and may neglect more disadvantaged drinkers.
‘There may be common causes affecting disadvantaged young people that lead to both smoking and heavy drinking. If we can identify and understand these it may be easier to intervene to prevent both.’
The study was published in the journal Addiction.