Young and not so drunk: Sipping, drinking and Australian adolescents
Wadolowski, M and Bucello, C and Aiken, A and Mattick, R and Najman, J and Kypri, K and Slade, T and Hutchinson, D and Bruno, RB and McBride, N, Young and not so drunk: Sipping, drinking and Australian adolescents, Drug and Alcohol Review, 18-21 November 2012, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 24. ISSN 0959-5236 (2012) [Conference Extract]
Issue: In the 2008 Australian Secondary Schools Survey on Alcohol
and Drugs, 66% of 12-year-olds and 75% of 13-year-olds reported
lifetime alcohol histories, suggesting adolescent alcohol use is
prevalent. Existing research fails to distinguish between drinking and
sipping alcohol, often combining sippers and drinkers into one
category. However, sipping and drinking alcohol potentially represent
very different behaviours and socialisation processes.
Approach: Year 7 students (M = 12.5) were recruited via NSW,
Tasmanian and WA secondary schools for a longitudinal parent-child
cohort. During 2010/11, 1929 parent–child dyads completed baseline
surveys. Measures include: alcohol use and harms; rules; parental
style and monitoring; family relationships, confl ict and relations; peer
substance use and approval; and delinquency.
Key Findings: Sixty-seven percent of 12-year-olds and 75% of
13-year-olds reported lifetime alcohol histories. Only 4% of 12-yearolds
and 10% of 13-year-olds reported ever drinking a glass of
alcohol. However, 63% of 12-year-olds and 65% of 13-year-olds
reported only ever sipping alcohol. Whilst parents were the largest
alcohol source, peers were more likely to supply drinkers than sippers
(1,N=362) = 91.8, P = 0.000). Compared to sippers, drinkers had
more substance-using and drunk peers (÷2
(1,N=1284) = 115.1, P = 0.000,
(1,N=1284) = 128.9, P = 0.000, respectively).
Implications: Adolescent alcohol use prevalence rates should be
interpreted with caution. Sippers and drinkers likely have different
alcohol use and misuse trajectories, with the behaviours potentially
representing different socialisation processes.
Conclusion: Whilst sipping alcohol is prevalent in adolescence,
drinking is in fact less prevalent. Future research should further
distinguish between sipping and drinking to better understand how
the behaviours relate to adolescent alcohol trajectories.