This study explores the lives of young people, aged 15-24, in two study areas located in regions of England where the harm caused by alcohol is markedly different. The aim of the research was to explore whether living in these places influenced young people’s drinking.
- Significant differences in alcohol-related harms have been observed between English regions. The north has a higher degree of reported indicators of harms than the south-east and the south-west.
- Despite these variations, young people’s drinking behaviour in the two areas studied followed similar patterns with regard to their choice of drink, where they drank, and the days of the week and times at which they drank.
- The differences between young people’s behaviour in the case study areas was subtle and related to how those places had developed over long periods of time.
- The pri.mary motivation for drinking at all ages was sociability, having a good time and avoiding trouble. On a ‘good night out’, laughter and fun were important. In the case of the north-eastern city, this was a significant part of local culture. Young people rarely drank on their own.
- Young people actively sought out ‘clusters’ of youth-orientated bars. A concentration of ‘clusters’ in the north east formed part of the impetus for young people to drink more than they originally intended.
- In the south east, young people below the legal age of drinking engaged in a wider range of leisure activities, sports and hobbies.
- In the north east, adult drinking was more visible both in the city centre and in streets and parks. There were more spaces where young people drank alongside adults.
- Despite a wish to limit the number of licensed premises in the north east, planning authorities had been unable to resist commercial pressures to allow clubs and bars to fill units that would otherwise be vacant