Purpose: To determine changes in the prevalence of reasons for drinking and their associations with alcohol use among adolescents in Switzerland from 1994 to 2002.
Method: Based on national representative samples of 3792 alcohol-using students in 8th and 9th grades in Switzerland (mean age 15.5 years, SD .7), chi-square tests were used to determine changes in reasons for drinking over time. To determine associations between reasons and alcohol use and changes in these associations over time, multiple regression models were estimated separately for the frequency of alcohol consumption and drunkenness.
Results: Most adolescents reported drinking to celebrate special occasions, because they wanted to try alcohol, or because they liked the taste of alcoholic drinks. From 1994 to 2002, an increase in all reasons was observed. In multiple regressions, nearly all reasons were significantly related to alcohol consumption and drunkenness. With two exceptions, no interaction with the study year was found. Furthermore, the number of reasons cited by the adolescents surveyed is important: the more reasons they indicated, the more often they drank. The highest alcohol use in 2002 was found among adolescents who indicated all or nearly all reasons, a group that did not exist in 1994.
Conclusions: There appears to be a new group of adolescents who indicated a high number of different reasons for drinking, who often consumed alcohol, and who were frequently drunk. Prevention approaches should be especially targeted at this new risk group.