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Young 'drink to bond with peers'

Young people get drunk to bond with their social group, an academic has said.

Teenagers regard their ability to drink excessive amounts of alcohol as a mark of "personal esteem" among their friends and for many it is key to being accepted as part of a social group.

Professor Christine Griffin, of the University of Bath, said she had carried out detailed research into the reasons for young people drinking, including extensive interviews.

She said Government campaigns targeting the availability of cheap drink, such as in off licenses or supermarkets, would not tackle young people's drinking habits alone.

"Extreme inebriation is often seen as a source of personal esteem and social affirmation amongst young people," Prof Griffin said.

"Our detailed research interviews reveal that tales of alcohol-related mishaps and escapades are key markers of young peoples' social identity."

In 2007 Prof Griffin led research for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that suggested a radical re-thinking of national alcohol policy was required to take into account the social character of alcohol consumption and the identity implications for young people.

Prof Griffin spoke out ahead of a presentation at the British Psychological Society's annual conference at the University of Winchester on Thursday.

She is reporting on the findings from the ESRC-funded study of intensive research with young drinkers in a major metropolitan area and in two towns in semi-rural locations.

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