Background: Danish youth has for years had the highest alcohol consumption in Europe, however recent surveys show that consumption levels have diminished slightly and that the age of first intoxication has been raised.
Aim: To explore young moderate drinkers' attitudes, values, and behaviour in relation to alcohol consumption.
Design, setting, and participants: Data consists of 10 individual semi-structured interviews with 16-17-year-old moderate drinkers attending high school in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Results: The study shows that the respondents perceive drinking as a necessity for feeling included at parties, but also that they do not feel a need to drink large amounts of alcohol in order to feel this social inclusion. The study finds that respondents employ a number of different behavioural and cognitive strategies aimed at controlling their own and close friends' drinking behaviour, and that short-term negative social implications are of much greater concern than long-term health consequences. In addition, the study shows that parents have a limited direct influence in this group.
Conclusions: The study identifies a group of young people who have clearly defined restrictions as to what they consider positive drinking behaviour. As parents and long-term health consequences only have an limited influence on the respondents' drinking behaviour, these elements should not have primary focus in future interventions. In stead, interventions should take into account the social dynamics involved in drinking and recognise that the social qualities surrounding alcohol weighs higher among this group of young people than the quantity of alcohol consumed.