Harmful alcohol consumption during adolescence poses a major public health issue as it affects several aspects of young peoples’ health and wellbeing.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Mental Health and Prevention, has examined the prevalence of problem alcohol use and risk factors associated with initiation of alcohol use in a sample (N = 1984) of school-aged adolescents in Ghana. The researchers examined the association between alcohol use behaviour and factors such as age, gender, suicidal thoughts, loneliness a, d interpersonal issues.
Results from the study found that:
- The prevalence of alcohol problems was 6.8%, lifetime drunkenness was 11.1%, current alcohol use 12.6%.
- 16% of the participants reported feelings of anxiety and 18.4% reported feeling lonely.
- In terms of suicidal behaviour, 18.2% of the participants described suicidal ideation, 22.5% reported a suicidal plan, and 22.2% of reported a suicide attempt
- About 43.8%, 37.5% and 28.2% of the participants reported to have been bullied, physically attacked and involved in a physical fight on once or more occasions respectively.
- No association was found with gender and alcohol use and age was associated with only current alcohol use but not with alcohol problem and drunkenness (reports of current alcohol use increased with age).
Overall the study found mental health-related factors and psychosocial problems increased the risk of alcohol use among school going adolescents in Ghana. The findings of this study should be used to guide interventions that could target high school students who may be at risk for alcohol use and abuse.