Variables related to alcohol use in early adolescents in Bogota Colombia: A Qualitative Study

Author : Trujillo, Elena Maria, Suarez, Daniel Enrique, Lema, Mariana, Londono, Alicia

Background: The use of alcohol in Colombian adolescents is a widespread phenomenon and public health concern. In order to design effective and culturally sensitive prevention strategies, the variables related to alcohol use by adolescents must be explored. The aim of this study was to explore in detail some of these variables in a population of early adolescents in Bogotá-Colombia. Methods: We used a qualitative methodology conducting sessions of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups for data collection. The sample size included 160 students between 12 to 14 years of age from two middle schools in Bogota. Data was analyzed using a thematic analyses approach. Results: Our results emphasize the impact of parental example and costumes’ in this age group. It is common practice in these communities to provide alcoholic beverages to minors in their own households as a way of “teaching them how to drink”. Also, pressure to consume alcoholic beverages comes not only from their peers but also from family members like uncles and cousins. The idea that they can control themselves while drinking is prevalent. Finally, these adolescents are more concerned with immediate risks, mostly related to parental scolding and disappointment, rather than long term consequences, and do not appear to be swayed by the actual risks inherent to the behavior in itself. Conclusion: These findings should be taken into consideration when designing and implementing prevention strategies aiming to reduce the use of alcohol in early Colombian adolescents.

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