Norwegian youth are drinking less

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A new survey backed by Norwegian health authorities indicates that Norwegian youth are drinking less alcohol than earlier generations, and it may be because they have more friends from cultures and religions where alcohol is banned.

The survey conducted by research firm Norstat for the state health directorate (Helsedirektoratet) showed that 40 percent of Norwegian youth aged 15 to 17 hadn’t tasted alcohol. Only 22 percent of those who have refrained from drinking alcohol for the first time think they will begin to drink in the coming year, reported news bureau NTB.

“This confirms figures from the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (Sirus), which shows that the average debut age for alcohol consumption is on the way up,” said Maj Berger Sæther, acting division director at the health directorate.

Three of four teenagers questioned also said they try to avoid drinking so much alcohol that they lose control. Most responded they don’t suffer from peer pressure, and that it’s not a problem to decline alcohol at parties.

“We’re seeing a positive trend with changing attitudes among youth, where consumption of alcohol is less accepted than it was before,” Sæther told NTB. 

Immigrants’ influence
Some researchers link the decline in youth drinking to the influence of Norwegian teens who come from Muslim or Asian backgrounds, or other cultures and religions where drinking is frowned upon or simply doesn’t exist.

“They have restrictive attitudes towards alcohol, and that affects the drinking patterns of youth from western cultures,” said Astrid Skretting of Sirus.

Survey figures indicated, for example, that teenagers in east Oslo, where many immigrants live, drank less than teenagers from west Oslo, where drinking is more acceptable.

Adrian Farner Rogne of the youth organization Juvente also thinks increasing integration among immigrant and Norwegian youth is leading to a decline in drinking. “Several major surveys in Oslo confirm that those who hang out with immigrant youth drink less,” said Rogne.

Not like their parents
He sees a bit of youth rebellion as well, because alcohol consumption has risen among the adult population in Norway. More Norwegian adults regularly drink wine with dinner, for example.

“Maybe the pendulum is swinging the other way, and youth are choosing to drink less as a reaction to their parents’ drinking,” Rogne told NTB.

One teenager interviewed in a park by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), though, said it “just isn’t cool” to get drunk at parties anymore.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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