Underage drinking

Research support
Italy

The Italian brewers association AssoBirra has continued to support the Osservatorio Permanente sui Giovani el’Alcool (The Permanent Observatory on Youth and Alcohol), a non-profit association founded for the purpose of scientifically studying alcohol consumption and its related problems amongst Italy’s young people. Since its inception, the Observatory’s mission has been to promote research in a manner which will help it achieve global awareness and co-operation in combating alcohol-related problems amongst young people. The Osservatorio’s firm commitment to “Social Alcohology” places it amongst the leading organisations in Europe who are sensitive to alcohol use and its effects from a social point of view. The approach of the Osservatorio is affirmative in sustaining that an effective policy of prevention of the risk of drinking abuse, implies a diffused education about responsible drinking and emphasis on the concept of self responsibility.

The Osservatorio has published numerous publications – Recent examples from 2015 include:

  • “Drinking patterns and psychosocial aspects at two age points of adolescence: A study on a panel of Italian students at 16 and 18”, published in “Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy”. The analysis shows that youngsters can be categorised according to three dominant drinking patterns which, in turn, are associated to definite psychological profiles. These factors should hence be exploited to devise prevention strategies capable of reducing alcohol linked risky behaviour;
  • “Alcoholic beverages consumption among Italian young people: 2000-2012 – A Systematic Review.” A publication produced jointly by the Osservatorio and the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council of Pisa. This publication summarises all the essential data of a systematic review of ten years of epidemiological surveillances on young people, alcohol consumption and abuse in the period 2000-2012. In particular the constant reduction on volumes of alcoholic beverages consumed is well grounded in all surveys. Both recent and current consumption are reduced among adolescents between 15 and 19 years, especially males; also risky behaviour, most typically associated with drinking and driving, has diminished.

The Osservatorio also regularly organises seminars and conferences:

  • In November 2014 a conference on “Adolescents and Alcohol in Metropolitan Areas: Early Drinking, Drinking Patterns and Influential Factors” was held in Milan under the aegis of the Osservatorio, the Italian Society of Adolescence Medicine (SIMA) and Laboratorio Adolescenza. The event was aimed at reporting recent data of a survey carried out of a sample of 5th and 7th graders students (12-14 years) in Italian middle school. Results show that in agreement with previous analyses Italian pre-adolescents have a relatively early alcohol initiation expressed as “having just a few sips”. Early consumption is mostly at home, and largely together with family meals. A dominant majority – around 80% – had never been drunk. Episodes of drunkenness were mostly associated with recurrent alcohol use and the role of drinking friends;
  • A symposium in March 2015 opened the morning session of the second Congress of alcohology organised and sponsored by the Paris based IREB (Institut de Recherches Scientifiques sur les Boissons). Jointly managed with the Osservatorio this session included three speeches by Michele Contel, Allaman Allamani and Daniele Rossi. Dr. Allamani presented recent results – taken from the EU sponsored Amphora study – showing how the impact of policies to address alcohol abuse had a somehow differentiated effect, often not in line with the expected outcomes. Different countries showed effects of decreased or increased volumes of alcohol consumption quite independently from the direction and the strength of the proposed regulatory policy. This seemed to indicate that trends in alcohol consumption follow dynamics that are intrinsic to each society and that normative enforcement of alcohol policy can sustain existing directions but not steer them.

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