Young adult’s drinking is about pleasure, a communal practice of socialising together in a friendship group. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the evolving support practices of drinking groups for better targeting of health communications messages.
This qualitative descriptive study examined the narratives of 28 young people’s (age 18-24 years old) experience of a “night out” framed as the Alcohol Consumption Journey.
The Alcohol Consumption Journey ritual consisted of three phases: preloading, going out and recovery. The participants described multiple forms of support practices located at each phase of the Alcohol Consumption Journey for maximising pleasure, minimising risk, encouraging supportive behaviours, enhancing group cohesion and protecting the drinkers from alcohol-related harm. Hence, support practices played a critical part in constituting and consolidating the drinking group. While the support practices appeared to be structured into the Alcohol Consumption Journey, they were activated differently for young men and young women. Support practices were an important driver in perpetuating the Alcohol Consumption Journey.
The paper extends Vander Ven’s concept of “drunk support” to better understand young adults’ evolving support practices in the ritualised Alcohol Consumption Journey.
The authors would like to thank Sharon Vera and Sarah Pore from the Health Promotion team of MidCentral District Health Board for their support with the research. Further thanks are extended to Niklas Dresler and Kirwan Attwell for assisting the authors with the data collection.
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