Do Drinking Rates for Young People Fall Naturally as they Age?

In the years between the late teens and the early twenties, young people are known for experimenting with alcohol use. As they move into their mid-twenties and beyond, the consensus is that people eventually moderate their alcohol consumption on their own. The results of a research study confirm that alcohol consumption rates tend to drop after the early twenties. When these statistics are reduced to the individual behavior level, it comes down to the drinker’s personality and his social networks.

Research Study Looked at Drinking Habits of 1,000 People

Michael Windle, the study author and chairman of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, explains that it has almost become accepted that everyone reduces their alcohol use once they move past their late teen and early adult years.

His study, which looked at drinking patterns of more than 1,000 participants, found that young adults are likely to maintain the drinking pattern they started during their teens.

Windle pointed out that previous studies found that alcohol abuse peaks in young people (aged 19-25). The consumption drop in the late 20s may be less due to young adults becoming less mature and more to do with the fact that few new cases are diagnosed after age 25. He said that it’s very unlikely to see someone in their mid-30s suddenly start drinking if they have abstained until that point.

The study followed the group of volunteers and gathered data at seven points between the ages of 17-33. They were divided into groups based on their level of alcohol use. Among the volunteers, 646 were light drinkers. Three hundred of them drank moderately during their teen years, gradually increased their alcohol intake to age 23 and slowed down their consumption as they moved into their 30s. Fifty-eight of the volunteers started as heavy drinkers during their teen and young adult years and then reduce their alcohol intake with time.

Moderate and Heavy Drinkers Did Not Cut Consumption by Much

The results also showed that those who were considered moderate and heavy drinkers were likely to increase their alcohol use during the early years of consumption and then cut back later on. The participants in this group did not reduce their alcohol consumption by very much. Both the moderate and heavy drinking groups were more likely than those who consumed less alcohol to experience health issues, along with work and relationship problems. The study also found that heavy drinkers were more likely to have friends with similar alcohol use patterns.