Gen-Z, a generation without alcohol?

Gen-Z, a generation without alcohol?
Young people at CORE Festival, at Ossegempark in Brussels, Friday 27 May 2022. Credit: Belga / Hatim Kaghat

Alcohol consumption among 16-25-year-olds is decreasing, which makes Gen-Z, short for Generation Z, the first generation to discover the benefits of sobriety much earlier than previous generations.

Those who fall under the 'Generation Z' age category, are usually between 1996 and 2009. The previous group are 'millennials,' which comprises anyone born between 1980 and 1995. Whereas these age-specific categorisations are often overused, they can be a useful tool for assessing alcohol consumption trends among young people.

For years, alcohol consumption among young people was considered excessive and even dangerous, but that era may now be over with the arrival of Gen-Z. It is a generation known for its progressive values as well as more solitary natures including a lower 'need' for alcohol.

Alcohol not needed for partying

Several studies point to a decrease in alcohol consumption for Gen-Z. In the UK, a charity called Drinkware showed that young people drink less than other generations, with 26% of this generation chooses to abstain from alcohol. I

n 2018, a report from Berenberg Research revealed that young people's interest in beer declined, opting instead for gin or vodka. Moreover, Gen-Z drink 20% less than Millennials at their age.

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Several reasons explain the phenomenon. Young people drink less alcohol than their elders for health reasons, but Barbara Ellen of The Guardian puts forward other arguments.

"They are smarter, more mature, less repressed than previous generations," she writes. Indeed, Gen-Z is the first generation born with the internet and it is the generation with the largest share of its cohort to have entered university.

Ellen also raises the issue of women's safety in relation to foregoing alcohol. "Sober women may feel safer and less vulnerable to predators."

Less alcohol but more cannabis

Although alcohol consumption may be declining for almost a quarter of Gen-Z in the UK, it is a generation more likely to turn to other drugs, especially cannabis.

According to a survey by Technomic, in US states where recreational cannabis is legal, 65% of Zs smoke marijuana and 51% drink cannabis-infused beverages.


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