Social roles among recruits in Switzerland: Do social roles relate to alcohol use and does role change have an impact?

Addict Behav. 2016 Mar:54:59-63. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.12.011. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Introduction: Young men are likely to report high levels of alcohol use. Previous studies found a reduction in alcohol use when adopting adult social roles. This study examines the frequency of parenthood, partnership and stable employment among young men in Switzerland. It tests whether the alcohol use of those with adult social roles differs from those without and whether changes in social roles relate to changes in alcohol use.

Methods: Data was available from 5025 men (20.0 years) at baseline (August 2010 to November 2011) and 15 months later. Changes in social roles and their impact on alcohol use were examined in multiple regression models.

Results: At baseline, 15.8% had a job and 4.9% a stable partner, and 1.5% had a child or were expecting one (30.5%, 6.1% and 2.2% at follow-up). Having a partner was associated with a significant decrease in annual frequency of drinking and weekly risky single-occasion drinking (RSOD) at follow-up. A higher number of social roles at follow-up was associated with a significant decrease in weekly RSOD. Apart from a significant decrease in weekly RSOD among those remaining in a stable partnership, role development was not found to have significant effects on alcohol use between baseline and follow-up.

Conclusions: In Switzerland, an early engagement in permanent social roles is uncommon. Nevertheless, holding single or multiple social roles was commonly associated with reduced alcohol use, although not always significantly so. In western European countries, the engagement in adult social roles is postponed to later ages.

Keywords: Alcohol; Maturing out; Men; Social roles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Military Personnel
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Role*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Young Adult