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Non-drinking teenagers on the rise

Published: Friday, Jan. 10 2014 2:55 p.m. MST

Statistics from a National Health Services' study are showing teen drinkers are on the decline, but it raises questions about teen drinkers.

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It looks like teenagers aren’t hitting the bottle as often as before, according to a new report.

On Jan. 10, BBC News Magazine published an article that looked at the teenage non-drinkers, who are finding other ways to celebrate and have fun without sipping the sauce.

“UK teenagers might have a reputation for binge drinking, but in reality the number of young people consuming alcohol has declined sharply,” wrote Catrin Nye and Hermeet Chadha for BBC.

Teenagers are stepping away from alcoholic drinks and finding other ways to spend their time, BBC reported. The article highlighted Liam Brooks, an 18-year-old from east London, who had to put drinkers to bed and said "there is no pretty drunk,” BBC reported.

BBC’s findings are based on a 2012 report by the National Health Service statistics that found 12 percent of those age 11 to 15 said in 2011 they have sipped alcohol within the last week. This number is down from the 26 percent found in the previous decade, BBC reported.

It’s something that’s been building in Europe over the last few months, according to The Spectator. Most young Brits aren’t engaging in drinking alcohol as much as adults are, The Spectator reported.

“The middle-aged are having more fun than ever — spending extraordinary amounts on booze, restaurants and designer clothes,” wrote Fraser Nelson for The Spectator. “Today’s young Brits are, by contrast, the most sober and sensible in living memory, keeping their heads down, their wallets closed and their minds focused on the mountain of debt that awaits them.”

Are people acting negatively towards non-drinkers, though? Susan M. Heathfield of About.com recently responded to a reader’s question, which asked whether people look down on the non-drinkers at office parties or in general.

“Never feel uncomfortable that you don't drink,” wrote Heathfield. “Carry around a glass with the beverage of your choice at the party and never mind, not even for a minute, what your imbibing co-workers think. You'll not mess up at the party (as so many people do) and you're probably healthier for not drinking."

But a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that teen drinkers tend to have more friends than those who don’t, according to Reuters. Teens who drink said they have about half a friend more than those who don’t, Reuters said.

Laura Stampler at Time magazine said there were some issues with the study overall, seeing as it is based on information from 1994.

This discovery about teen drinkers having more friends, though, is part of the issue, said Joseph P. Allen, who studies child social development at the University of Virginia, according to Reuters.

"One of the toughest problems with teen alcohol use is that alcohol use is associated with greater social involvement, and likely popularity, even in adulthood," Allen said to Reuters. "Our best chance is likely to give teens ways to feel like they are moving into the adult world that don't revolve just around alcohol.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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