Drinking alcohol is an essential and commonplace part of life in Russia. Alcohol-related problems in the general population and among adolescents in particular has become a major public health concern. The problem cannot be solely explained by the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption. The social determinants of drinking alcohol also need to be considered. These are the focus of the present investigation. The social determinants of drinking behaviour were assessed by self-reports (Social Context of Drinking Scale, Adolescent Alcohol Involvement Scale and Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index) in 387 secondary school students in Arkhangelsk, Russia. The factor structure for the Social Context of Drinking Scale was similar to that noted in respect of the original study [Thrombs and Beck (1994) Health Education and Research 9, 13-22]. Significant gender differences in problem drinking and the social contexts of drinking were found. High intensity girl drinkers were likely to drink in most social contexts, whereas high intensity drinking boys were more likely to drink in the context of Stress Control. Furthermore, boy problem drinkers were more likely to drink in the context of School Defiance and Peer Acceptance, whereas girl problem drinkers tended to drink in the contexts of School Defiance and Stress Control. In general, the Social Context of Drinking Scale demonstrated a good ability to discriminate high from low intensity drinkers, and high from low problem drinkers. These results may provide useful information for targeted prevention programmes for adolescents.
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