Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Original article

Vol. 144 No. 3536 (2014)

Excessive alcohol consumption in young men: is there an association with their earlier family situation?

  • Simon Steiner
  • Dominik Schori
  • Gerhard Gmel
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2014;144:w14007


AIMS: To determine whether parental factors earlier in life (parenting, single parent family, parental substance use problem) are associated with patterns of alcohol consumption among young men in Switzerland.

METHODS: This analysis of a population based sample from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF) included 5,990 young men (mean age 19.51 years), all attending a mandatory recruitment process for the army. These conscripts reported on parental monitoring and rule-setting, parental behaviour and family structure. The alcohol use pattern was assessed through abstention, risky single occasion drinking (RSOD), volume drinking and dependence. Furthermore, the impact of age, family socio-economic status, educational level of the parents, language region and civil status was analysed.

RESULTS: A parental substance use problem was positively associated with volume drinking and alcohol dependence in young Swiss men. Active parenting corresponded negatively with RSOD, volume drinking and alcohol dependence. Single parent family was not associated with a different alcohol consumption pattern compared to standard family.

CONCLUSION: Parental influences earlier in life such as active parenting (monitoring, rule-setting and knowing the whereabouts) and perceived parental substance use problem are associated with alcohol drinking behaviour in young male adults. Therefore, health professionals should stress the importance of active parenting and parental substance use prevention in alcohol prevention strategies.


  1. Hibell B, Guttormsson U, Ahlström S, Balakireva O, Bjarnason T, Kokkevi A, et al. The 2007 ESPAD Report: Substance Use Among Students in 35 European Countries. The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (editor). Sweden, Stockholm, 2009.
  2. Zaborskis A, Sumskas L, Maser M, Pudule I. Trends in drinking habits among adolescents in the Baltic countries over the period of transition: HBSC survey results, 1993–2002. BMC Public Health. 2006;6:67.
  3. Wicki M, Kuntsche E, Gmel G. Drinking at European universities? A review of students’ alcohol use. Addict Behav. 2010;35:913–24.
  4. Tomcikova Z, Geckova AM, van Dijk JP, Reijneveld SA. Characteristics of adolescent excessive drinkers compared with consumers and abstainers. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2011;30:157–65.
  5. Adam A, Faouzi M, Gaume J, Gmel G, Daeppen JB, Bertholet N. Age of first alcohol intoxication: Association with risky drinking and other substance use at the age of 20. Swiss Med Wkly. 2011;141:w13226.
  6. Kuendig H. Alcohol dependence figures in the Swiss general population: a Sisyphean challenge for epidemiologists. Eur Addict Res. 2010;16:185–92.
  7. Marmet S, et al. Alcohol-attributable mortality in Switzerland between 1997 and 2011. Addiction Suisse, Lausanne, 2013.
  8. World Health Organization. WHO global status report on alcohol 2004. Geneva, Switzerland: Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, 2004.
  9. Surkan PJ, Fielding-Miller R, Melchior M. Parental relationship satisfaction in French young adults associated with alcohol abuse and dependence. Addict Behav. 2012;37:313–7.
  10. Kirby T, Barry AE. Alcohol as a gateway drug: a study of US 12th graders. J Sch Health. 2012;82:371–9.
  11. Jeanrenaud C, Widmer G, Pellegrini S. Le coût social de la consommation de drogues illégales en Suisse. Université de Neuchâtel. Abschlussbericht Sucht Info Schweiz, 2005.
  12. Kuntsche E, Gmel G. Alcohol consumption in late adolescence and early adulthood – where is the problem? Swiss Med Wkly. 2013;143:w13826.
  13. Gossrau-Breen D, Kuntsche E, Gmel G. My older sibling was drunk – Younger siblings’ drunkenness in relation to parental monitoring and the parent-adolescent relationship. J Adolesc. 2010;33:643–52.
  14. Kuntsche E, Kuendig H. What is worse? A hierarchy of family-related risk factors predicting alcohol use in adolescence. Subst Use Misuse. 2006;41:71–86.
  15. Vakalahi HF. Adolescent substance use and family-based risk and protective factors: a literature review. J Drug Educ. 2001;31(1):29–46.
  16. Foxcroft DR, Lowe G. Adolescent drinking behavior and family socialization factors: a meta-analysis. J Adolesc. 1991;14(3):255–73.
  17. Varvil-Weld L, Mallett KA, Turrisi R, Abar CC. Using parental profiles to predict membership in a subset of college students experiencing excessive alcohol consequences: findings from a longitudinal study. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012;73(3):434–43.
  18. Petrie J, Bunn F, Byrne G. Parenting programmes for preventing tobacco, alcohol or drugs misuse in children <18: a systematic review. Health Education Research. 2007;22(2):177–91.
  19. Weinberg NZ, Rahdert E, Colliver JD, Glantz MD. Adolescent substance abuse: a review of the past 10 years. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998;37(3):252–61.
  20. Varvil-Weld L, Turrisi R, Scaglione N, Mallett KA, Ray AE. Parents’ and students’ reports of parenting: which are more reliably associated with college student drinking? Addict Behav. 2013;38(3):1699–703.
  21. Patock-Peckham JA, King KM, Morgan-Lopez AA, Ulloa EC, Moses JM. Gender-specific mediational links between parenting styles, parental monitoring, impulsiveness, drinking control, and alcohol-related problems. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011;72(2):247–58.
  22. Dey M, Gmel G, Studer J, Dermota P, Mohler-Kuo M. Beverage preferences and associated drinking patterns, consequences and other substance use behaviours. European Journal of Public Health. 2013 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print].
  23. Dermota P, Wang J, Dey M, Gmel G, Studer J, Mohler-Kuo M. Health literacy and substance use in young Swiss men. Int J Public Health. 2013;58(6):939–48.
  24. Sessa FM. The influence of perceived parenting on substance use during the transition to college: A comparison of male residential and commuter students. J Coll Stud Dev. 2005;46(1),62–74.
  25. Patock-Peckham JA, Morgan-Lopez AA. College drinking behaviors: Mediational links between parenting styles, impulse control, and alcohol-related outcomes. Psychol Addict Behav. 2006;20(2):117.
  26. Arria AM, Caldeira KM, O’Grady KE, Vincent KB, Fitzelle DB, Johnson EP, Wish ED. Drug exposure opportunities and use patterns among college students: Results of a longitudinal prospective cohort study. Substance Abuse. 2008;29(4):19–38.
  27. Studer J, Mohler Kuo M, Dermota P, Gaume J, Bertholet N, Eidenbenz C, Daeppen J-B, Gmel G. Need for informed consent in substance use studies – harm of bias? J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013;74:931–40.
  28. Studer J, Baggio S, Mohler-Kuo M, Dermota P, Gaume J, Bertholet N, Daeppen J-B, Gmel G. Examining non-response bias in substance use research. Are late respondents proxies for non-respondents? Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;132:316–23.
  29. Wechsler H, Isaac NE. ‘Binge’ drinkers at Massachusetts colleges. Prevalence, drinking style, time trends, and associated problems. JAMA. 1992;267:2929–31.
  30. Wechsler H, Davenport A, Dowdall GW, Moeykens B, Castillio S. Health and behavioural consequences of binge drinking in college—a national survey of students at 140 campuses. JAMA. 1994; 272:1671–7.
  31. Dawson DA. Defining Risk Drinking. Alcohol Research & Health (Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). 2011;34(2):144–56.
  32. Department of Health. The cost of alcohol harm to the NHS in England: An update to the Cabinet Office (2003) study. London: Department of Health, 2008.
  33. Samet S, Waxman R, Hatzenbuehler M, Hasin DS. Assessing addiction: concepts and instruments. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2007;4(1):19–31.
  34. Knight JR, Wechsler H, Kuo M, Seibring M, Weitzman ER, Schuckit MA. Alcohol abuse and dependence among U.S. college students. J Stud Alcohol. 2002;63(3):263–70.
  35. Hibell B, Guttormsson U, Ahlström S, Balakireva O, Bjarnason T, Kokkevi A, Kraus L. The 2011 ESPAD report. Substance use among students in 36 European counties. The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs. Stockholm, Sweden, 2012.
  36. Gmel G. Mohler-Kuo M, Dermota P, Gaume J, Bertholet N, Daeppen JB, Studer J. Religion is good, belief is better: Religion, religiosity, and substance use among young Swiss men. Subst Use Misuse: 2013;48:1085–98.
  37. Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS. Applied multiple regression. Correlation analysis for the behavioural sciences. (3rd edition). New York: Routledge; 2003.
  38. Moore GF, Rothwell H, Segrott J. An exploratory study of the relationship between parental attitudes and behaviour and young people’s consumption of alcohol. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2010;5:6.
  39. Donovan JE, Molina BS. Childhood risk factors for early-onset drinking. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011;72(5):741–51.
  40. Hill SY, Steinhauer SR, Locke-Wellman J, Ulrich R. Childhood risk factors for young adult substance dependence outcome in offspring from multiplex alcohol dependence families: a prospective study. Biological Psychiatry. 2009;66(8):750–7.
  41. Oetting ER, Donnermeyer JF. Primary Socialization Theory: The Etiology of Drug Use and Deviance. I. Subst Use Misuse. 1998;33(4):995–1026.
  42. Arria AM, Kuhn V, Caldeira KM, O’Grady KE, Vincent KB, Wish ED. High school drinking mediates the relationship between parental monitoring and college drinking: a longitudinal analysis. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2008;3:6.
  43. Beck KH, Boyle JR, Boekeloo BO. Parental monitoring and adolescent drinking: results of a 12–month follow-up. Am J Health Behav. 2004;28(3):272–9.
  44. Walls TA, Fairlie AM, Wood MD. Parents do matter: a longitudinal two-part mixed model of early college alcohol participation and intensity. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009;70(6):908–18.
  45. Chaplin TM, Sinha R, Simmons JA, Healy SM, Mayes LC, Hommer RE, Crowley MJ. Parent-adolescent conflict interactions and adolescent alcohol use. Addict Behav. 2012;37:605–12.
  46. Bachman JG. O’Malley PM, Johnston LD, Schulenberg JE, Wallace JM. Racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between parental education and substance use among U.S. 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-Grade Students: Findings from the Monitoring the Future Project. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011;72:279–85.
  47. Carvalho Malta D, Lopes Porto D, Carvalho Malta Melo F, Monteiro RA, Monteiro Vasconcelos Dardinha L, Horta Lessa B. Family and the protection from use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs in adolescents, National School. Rev Bras Epidemiol. 2011;14(3):166–77.
  48. Ledoux S, Miller P, Choquet M, Plant MA. Family structure, parent-child relationships, and alcohol and other drug use among teenagers in France and the United Kingdom. Alcohol Alcohol. 2002;37(1):52–60.
  49. Morleo M, Cook PA, Elliott G, Phillips-Howard PA. Parental knowledge of alcohol consumption: a cross sectional survey of 11–-17 year old schoolchildren and their parents. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):412.
  50. Gilligan C, Kypri K. Parent attitudes, family dynamics and adolescent drinking: qualitative study of the Australian Parenting Guidelines for Adolescent Alcohol Use. BMC Public Health. 2012;12:491.
  51. Barnes GM, Windle M. Family factors in adolescent alcohol and drug abuse. Pediatrician. 1987;14(1–2):13–8.
  52. Alamian A, Paradis G. Individual and social determinants of multiple chronic disease behavioral risk factors among youth. BMC Public Health. 2012;12:224.
  53. Musick K, Meier A. Are both parents always better than one? Parental conflict and young adult well-being. Social Science Research. 2010;39(5):814–30.
  54. Jablonska B, Lindberg L. Risk behaviours, victimisation and mental distress among adolescents in different family structures. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007;42(8):656–63.
  55. Gmel G, Gaume J, Bertholet N, Daeppen J. Brief alcohol intervention as pragmatic intervention: Who is voluntarily taking an offered intervention? Alcohol. 2012;46(6):551–8.
  56. Del Boca FK, Noll JA. Truth or consequences: the validity of self-report data in health services research on addictions. Addiction. 2000;95:S347–S360.
  57. Del Boca FK, Darkes J. The validity of self-reports of alcohol consumption: state of the science and challenges for research. Addiction. 2003;Suppl. 2:1–12.
  58. Gmel G, Rehm J. Measuring alcohol consumption. Contemp Drug Probl. 2004;31:467–540.
  59. Greenfield TK, Kerr WC. Alcohol measurement methodology in epidemiology: recent advances and opportunities. Addiction. 2008;103(7):1082–99.
  60. Visser L, de Winter AF, Vollebergh WAM, Verhulst C, Reijneveld SA. The Impact of Parenting Styles on Adolescent Alcohol Use: The TRAILS Study. Eur Addict Res. 2013;19:165–72.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>