Publications & Reports

Declining drinking among adolescents: Are we seeing a denormalisation of drinking and a normalisation of non-drinking?

Caluzzi G, Livingston M, Holmes J, MacLean S, Lubman D, Dietze P, Vashishtha R, Herring R, Pennay A
Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia.


BACKGROUND: In the early 2000s, alcohol use among young people began to decline in many western countries, especially among adolescents (aged between 12-17 years old). These declines have continued steadily over the past two decades, against the backdrop of much smaller declines among the general population. ARGUMENT: Hypotheses examining individual factors fail adequately to provide the necessary ‘big picture’ thinking needed to understand declines in adolescent drinking. We use the normalisation thesis to argue that there is strong international evidence for both processes of denormalisation of drinking and normalisation of non-drinking occurring for adolescents in many western countries. CONCLUSIONS: Research on declining adolescent drinking provides evidence of both denormalisation of alcohol consumption and normalisation of non-drinking. This has implications for enabling policy environments more amenable to regulation and increasing the acceptability of non-drinking in social contexts. Normalisation theory (and its various interpretations) provides a useful multi-dimensional tool for understanding declines in adolescent drinking.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Addiction
  • Published: 01/05/2022
  • Volume: 117
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: 1204-1212