One in five people over 55 feel peer pressured into drinking more

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One in five people aged over 55 years of age admit to feeling peer pressured into drinking more alcohol than they otherwise would, according to researchers with the alcohol education charity Drinkaware and the universities of London South Bank in the United Kingdom and New Brunswick in Canada, reports Ian Randall for MailOnline.

The full findings of their study were published in the journal BMC Public Health.

The investigation found that peer pressure is felt by all ages – but impacts on older generations in different way.

While they may think they are ‘older and wiser’ and immune to such influence, seniors are still vulnerable but less likely to identify peer pressure as being overt. Instead, older adults tend to see pressure to drink more as part of being sociable – or as a mere form of ‘friendly banter’, writes Randall in the 6 July 2020 MailOnline story.

Read the MailOnline article here


Whether it’s topping up someone’s glass without asking, encouraging a group to buy in rounds or incorporating drinks into social rituals, peer pressure comes in many guises,’ said Drinkaware Evidence and Research Associate Emma Catterall.

“Our study shows that being older doesn’t make us immune to the peer pressure to drink. In fact, it suggests we actually just don’t recognise pressurising behaviours.”

The study

In the study, Catterall and colleagues reviewed 13 existing studies into peer pressure in the context of alcohol consumption among adults, alongside Drinkaware’s online survey of 2,145 adults into peer pressure, continues the MailOnline article.

The researchers found that younger people are more likely to identify peer pressure as being overt or even aggressive, making them more likely to regard such influence as being negative. Accordingly, over 60% of drinkers aged 18-34 said that pressure to drink was common among their peers.

This figure fell to 29% among adult drinkers between the ages of 35–54, however, and 20% of those aged 55 or above.

According to MailOnline, the researchers also found that while young people tend to drink less frequently than their seniors, they are more likely to binge drink when they do.

In fact, only 44% of under 35-year-olds reported drinking at least weekly, compared with 52% of those aged 35–54 and 58% of over 55s. Yet 67% said that they indulged in binge drinking – compared with 61% of 35-54-year-olds and just 45% of those aged 55 or above.

Read the MailOnline article here


Regardless of the age group, the research suggested that peer pressure can be significant in increasing the amount of alcohol that people drink – and that most who gave in to the influence reported regretting the indulgence later.

“In the majority of cases, pressure to drink isn’t malicious and may not even be conscious. But if we drink more alcohol as a result of pressure, we could be risking our health,” Catterall added, reports MailOnline.

“We all need to know how to recognise when we’re being pressured to drink or when we’re pressuring someone else to drink.

“Being aware can help us with strategies to avoid caving in, or make sure others don’t feel like they have to drink alcohol if they don’t want to.”

Dodging pressure

The research also suggested that many people develop strategies to dodge pressure to drink further – including driving to social events to avoid having to drink, or pretending that their soft drink is in fact alcoholic.

In addition, some people reported choosing to spent time with friends who were moderate- or non-drinkers in order to avoid pressure to drink more.

“The danger is that if people interpret peer pressure, or encouragement to drink, as part and parcel of convivial drinking culture, it could become seen as acceptable behaviour,” said Dr Catterall.

“The reality is that peer pressure to drink, in whatever form, encourages people to drink more than they might intend. And this can have consequences for their health.”


Peer pressure and alcohol consumption in adults living in the UK: a systematic qualitative review

BMC Public Health, Volume 20, Article 1014 (2020). Published 7 July 2020.




Hannah Morris, John Larsen, Emma Catterall, Antony C Moss and Stephan U Dombrowski.

The researchers are from the NGO Drinkaware and the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research at London South Bank University in the United Kingdom, and the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick in Canada.


Peer pressure to drink alcohol may influence excessive alcohol consumption, which can have adverse impacts on health and wellbeing. While peer pressure to drink alcohol is extensively studied among youth, less examination exists among adults. This systematic review examined qualitative research studies which explored the role and concept of peer pressure within the context of alcohol consumption in adults living in the UK.


Qualitative studies which explored peer pressure within the context of alcohol consumption or alcohol related behaviours and views in adults (age range approximately 18 to 52 years) living in the UK were included. Systematic searches conducted in Medline, PsycINFO and Web of Science identified 1,462 references, of which 13 studies met inclusion criteria. Thematic analysis was conducted.


Five overarching themes were identified. Four of these themes directly address aspects of peer pressure, including: experiences of peer pressure; consequences of peer pressure; strategies to deal with peer pressure; and conditions perceived to affect peer pressure.

The fifth overarching theme explains the wider social context influencing peer pressure. Pressure to drink alcohol affects individuals across the life span and can be experienced as overt and aggressive, or subtle and friendly.

Those consuming little or no alcohol are more likely to feel overt forms of peer pressure. Some developed strategies to cope with pressure from drinkers. Peer pressure can result in feelings of social isolation, or giving in by consuming alcohol against ones wishes.


Peer pressure to drink alcohol is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon experienced across adulthood, requiring better understanding to support initiatives, to decrease the impact of pressure-inducing environments and to develop strategies to deal with perceived pressure conditions.



One in five people aged over 55 admit to feeling peer pressured into drinking MORE alcohol, study finds



Peer pressure and alcohol consumption in adults living in the UK: A systematic qualitative review


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