Alcohol consumption among 16-to-25-year-olds is on the wane. Gen Z is discovering the benefits of sobriety much sooner than previous generations, and they like it. So has drinking alcohol become passé?For years, alcohol consumption among young people has been considered excessive. But the coming of age of Gen Z seems to be ushering in an era of sobriety among young people. While they’re increasingly adopting lower-key lifestyles — even to the point of becoming solitary homebodies — they’re also reportedly less likely to drink alcohol.
Several studies have focused on the subject. In Great Britain, the charity Drinkaware reports a general decline in alcohol consumption, not among people over 30, but among 16-to-24-year-olds. According to the study, reported by The Guardian, 26% of them don’t drink alcohol at all. And the decline has intensified over recent years. As of 2018, a report by Berenberg Resarchshowed that young people’s interest in beer was down sharply. They also drink 20% less than Millennials at their age. Gen Z is the first generation to prefer spirits like gin or vodka to beer. Gen Z is consuming less alcohol overall than previous generations, the report’s authors explained at the time.
There are several explanations for this phenomenon. First, young people drink less alcohol than their elders for health reasons. But Barbara Ellen, the journalist who wrote the aforementioned Guardian story, also suggests other reasons. Gen Z youngsters “are smarter, more mature, less repressed than previous generations," she says. Similarly, Gen Zers don’t need alcohol to have fun and enjoy themselves. The journalist also ponders whether women’s safety is a part of the picture, with “sober women feeling a little safer, less vulnerable to predators."
Covid-19 lockdowns are also a major factor in the changing behavior of Gen Z, who are more used to living alone and not going out. When bars and nightclubs reopened, some young people were quickly gripped by social anxiety, feeling oppressed by the world. By going out less, the opportunities to drink alcohol are also reduced. Plus, young people have less money to spend on alcohol than their elders, which curbs their outings.
Gen Zers appear to consume alcohol more sensibly than their elders, and also to prefer higher-quality alcohol. However, young people are increasingly turning to drugs, especially cannabis, which is becoming more and more accessible due to its legalization in several countries. According to a Technomic survey, shared by Restaurantbusinessonline, in US states where recreational cannabis is legal, 65% of Gen Zers reportedly smoke marijuana and 51% consume cannabis-infused drinks.