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‘Mindful Millennials’ put off drinking alcohol by parents

Our latest survey suggests health-conscious younger adults are turning their backs on alcohol as a result of their own parents’ drinking habits.

While getting the worse for wear was once commonplace for young people, they are now increasingly censorious of older generations who drink regularly – and even think the Government should intervene by issuing advice to current parents about the effects of drinking alcohol in front of their children.

One fifth (19%) of the under-35s say they were put off drinking heavily by their parents’ drinking habits, compared to just 5% of the over-55s.

Who knows more about drinking responsibly?

Our survey also shows that almost half (48%) of those aged 18-24 understand that drinking 2 large glasses of wine – more than six units at one time - can constitute binge drinking.[1] This level of awareness compares to just a fifth (21%) of those aged 55-64.

Some 40% of under-35s said they support an increase on VAT on alcoholic drinks served in pubs, clubs and restaurants, to help curb excess drinking, compared with 24% of the over-55s.

Three quarters (75%) of under-35s think the drinks manufacturers should be doing more to warn the public of the link between alcohol and serious health conditions such as liver disease and mouth cancer, compared to two thirds (67%) of aged 55-64.

Young adults are also more upfront about suggesting friends with alcohol problems seek help. Almost half (48%) of respondents aged 18-24 polled by Priory say they would feel comfortable suggesting a friend sought professional help if they suspected they were drinking too much, compared to less than a third (30%) of those aged 55-64.   

The research comes as drinking rates among British adults appear to have plunged to their lowest in 18 years.

An Office for National Statistics survey found the proportion who drank alcohol at least once a week declined from 64.2% to 56.9% last year. The trend is particularly prevalent among young people: more than a quarter of 16-to-24-year-olds do not drink.

Also, the latest findings from Mintel’s Alcoholic Drinks Review show that 27% of Britons say they are drinking more low- or no-alcohol drinks compared to a few years ago. This rises to 42% of consumers aged 18-24 and 45% of consumers aged 25-34. A sizeable 61% of Britons believe getting drunk is “uncool”, declining to 41% of 18-24s and 47% of those aged 25-34.

Why are young people drinking less?

Dr Paul McLaren, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory's Hayes Grove Hospital and its London Wellbeing Centres said:

“What these new trends are showing us is that for many young people, many of whom prefer their digital devices to a night out, alcohol is not always a necessary component of an enjoyable evening, and increasing numbers of young people are far more mindful about their drinking habits than their parents’ generation.

"They are also more likely to talk about their problems than drown them in drink. Millennials are not using alcohol to deal with their problems because they are more comfortable talking about them openly instead. Lack of funds also leads to less drinking - many would rather spend their money on other things such as smartphones.

”Yes, we still see young people drinking to excess, and binge drinking, but there is evidence that more and more young people, for cultural or other reasons, do not want to live like this. Social media probably has a role to play, as does image and the desire to look good and be healthy. So the fact young people are choosing to drink less bodes well for the future - and their parents and grandparents could learn from them.

"As a nation, we need to fully understand why young people are making more sensible choices around alcohol and how we can spread that message to the rest of the population, and make more people aware of the consequences of drinking to excess.” 

[1] The definition used by the Office of National Statistics for binge drinking is having over 8 units in a single session for men and over 6 units per women.

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