An Examination of Social Host Policies: Relationship with Social Drinking Context and Alcohol Use among Adolescents

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kimberly G. Wagoner (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Vincent Francisco

Abstract: Underage drinking continues to be a major public health concern, partially due to the ease in which adolescents obtain alcohol and consume it in private locations. States and municipalities have implemented a variety of strategies to counteract this, including adopting public policies focused on underage alcohol use in residential settings, termed social host policies. The purpose of this study was to 1) conduct a critical analysis of social host policies and the factors they are intended to change; and 2) examine social host policies focused on hosting underage drinking parties as an environmental predictor for drinking location, peer drinking group size, heavy episodic drinking and associated non-violent consequences. Three waves of cross sectional data from 11,205 14-20 year olds, nested within 68 communities in five states, who participated in the national evaluation of the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Randomized Community Trial (EUDL-CT), was analyzed using multi-level modeling. Social host policy status was categorized as passed prior to the EUDL-CT intervention, passed during the intervention, or no policy. Pre-existing social host policies or policies passed during the intervention were not associated with drinking location, decreasing heavy episodic drinking or decreasing alcohol related, non-violent consequences among adolescents. However, youth from communities that had a pre-existing social host policy had lower odds of drinking in large groups compared to youth from communities without a policy at baseline (OR=0.827, CI:0.69-0.99; p=0.04). At follow-up, youth from communities that passed a social host policy during the intervention had higher odds of drinking in large groups compared to youth from communities without a policy (OR=1.26; CI=1.05-1.51; p=0.009) and youth from communities with a pre-existing policy (OR=1.23; CI=1.01-1.49; p=0.034). Findings suggest that these policies require additional attention before conclusions can be drawn about their effectiveness. Additional research should focus on the differences in state versus local policies, liability associated with the policies, as well as the intensity of policy implementation by local communities. Future studies should also consider behavior change, not just of adolescents, but of other stakeholders, such as parents and local law enforcement.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Adolescent, Alcohol, Social Host Policy

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