Youth alcohol consumption: Context and influences
This study aimed at describing the context in which youth consume alcohol. The objectives were to identify the locations of consumption, to determine the sources of alcohol, to describe motives and social context of alcohol consumption. The current study was conducted with 123 grade 11 learners from a high school in Musina Town, Limpopo Province, South Africa. This study employed a two-part mixed method approach, with the first part being quantitative and the second one qualitative in nature. 116 respondents took part in the survey, while seven participants partook in a focus group discussion. 71 respondents who took part in the survey were self-reported current drinkers, whereas 45 were not alcohol drinkers. All the participants in the focus group discussion were drinkers. For the survey, respondents were selected using stratified random sampling, while purposive and snowball sampling techniques were applied to select the participants of the focus group. The two datasets were analysed using SPSS for the quantitative data and thematic analysis for the qualitative data. Access to alcohol was found to be mainly interrelated with its availability. Young people obtain alcohol from their friends, family members and alcohol outlets. Money is not a determinant of how much one drinks per session. Young drinkers devise other means of obtaining money to buy alcohol such as sealing and gambling. Youth prefer to drink with their friends at home, social gatherings, alcohol outlets and school in order to have fun, fit in and as a way of coping with adversities. Factors that reinforce consumption amongst the youth include theirs and their parents’ attitudes towards drinking. The permissive culture of underage drinking as a normal and acceptable activity should be challenged. The culture of celebrating milestones with alcohol should be challenged and changed in
order to minimise underage drinking at social events. Sensitisation of parents and guardians about harm related to underage alcohol use is necessary in order to reduce alcohol related harm.
Keywords: alcohol consumption, context, influences, motives, youth