Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the development in drinking patterns in a Danish cohort of young people from the age of 15 to 25/26. The cohort (born in 1989) is one of the first to be involved in the recent decline in youth drinking across Western countries. Methods: Data (2463 individuals) included longitudinal survey data (three waves) on alcohol consumption and administrative data on family background and educational engagement. Data were analyzed by using a finite mixture linear model. Results: Six different alcohol trajectory groups were identified: ‘moderate stable’, ‘late starters’, ‘low stable’, ‘chronic high’, ‘fling, high level’ and ‘fling, middle level’. Conclusion: The paper shows that drinking trajectories in an intoxication-focused youth culture, such as that found in Denmark, are different from those in countries with lower alcohol consumption levels. Trajectories identified as dominant in other countries (abstainers or almost abstainers) are marginal in Denmark, while ‘fling’ drinking trajectories–alcohol consumption reaching exceptionally high levels around the age of 18/19 and then decreasing–are common. Although ‘fling’ trajectories peak at a high-risk level (according to the Danish National Health Board), they are socially regulated trajectories, tied to friendship networks and school environments. At the age of 25/26, most of the respondents have abandoned the pattern of heavy, youthful drinking–the exception being the ‘chronic high’ group who have not matured out of this in their mid-twenties. The article contributes to international research on the general decline in youth drinking, treating the 1989 cohort as ‘first movers’ in this development, but also showing how drinking trajectories follow country-specific patterns.
- Stefan Bastholm AndradeMargaretha Järvinen
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Published inAddiction Research and Theory