Binge Drinking, Cannabis and Tobacco Use Among Ethnic Norwegian and Ethnic Minority Adolescents in Oslo, Norway


The aim of the study was to assess prevalence and factors associated with binge drinking, cannabis use and tobacco use among ethnic Norwegians and ethnic minority adolescents in Oslo. We used data from a school-based cross-sectional survey of adolescents in junior- and senior high schools in Oslo, Norway. The participants were 10,934 adolescents aged 14–17 years, and just over half were females. The sample was comprised of 73.2 % ethnic Norwegian adolescents, 9.8 % 1st generation immigrants, and 17 % 2nd generation adolescents from Europe, the US, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Logistic regression models were applied for the data analyses. Age, gender, religion, parental education, parent–adolescent relationships, depressive symptoms and loneliness were covariates in the regression models. Ethnic Norwegian adolescents reported the highest prevalence of binge drinking (16.1 %), whereas the lowest prevalence was found among 2nd generation adolescents from Asia (2.9 %). Likewise, the past-year prevalence for cannabis use ranged from 10.6 % among 2nd generation Europeans and those from the US to 3.7 % among 2nd generation Asians. For daily tobacco use, the prevalence ranged from 12.9 % among 2nd generation Europeans and the US to 5.1 % among 2nd generation Asians. Ethnicity, age, gender, religion, parental education, and parent–adolescent relationships and mental health status were significantly associated with binge drinking, cannabis and tobacco use. These factors partly explained the observed differences between ethnic Norwegians and ethnic minority adolescents in the current study. There are significant differences in substance use behaviors between ethnic Norwegian and immigrant youth. Factors like age, gender, religion, parental education and relationships and mental health status might influence the relationship between ethnicity and substance abuse. The findings have implications for planning selective- as well as universal prevention interventions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Blake SM, Ledsky R, Goodenow C, O’Donnell L. Recency of immigration, substance use, and sexual behavior among Massachusetts adolescents. Am J Public Health. 2001;91:794–8.

    CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kandel DB, Kiros GE, Schaffran C, Hu MC. Racial/ethnic differences in cigarette smoking initiation and progression to daily smoking: a multilevel analysis. Am J Public Health. 2004;94:128–35.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Amundsen EJ, Rossow I, Skurtveit S. Drinking pattern among adolescents with immigrant and Norwegian backgrounds: a two-way influence? Addiction. 2005;100:1453–63.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Amundsen EJ. Low level of alcohol drinking among two generations of non-Western immigrants in Oslo: a multi-ethnic comparison. BMC Public Health. 2012;12:535–48.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Svensson M, Hagquist C. Adolescent alcohol and illicit drug use among first- and second-generation immigrants in Sweden. Scand J Public Health. 2009;38:184–91.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Heath D. International handbook on alcohol and culture. Westport: Greenwood Press; 1995.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Hussey JM, Hallfors DD, Waller MW, Iritani BJ, Halpern CT, Bauer DJ. Sexual behavior and drug use among Asian and Latino adolescents: association with immigrant status. J Immigr Minor Health. 2007;9:85–94.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Gil AG, Wagner EF. Acculturation, familism, and alcohol use among Latino adolescent males: longitudinal relations. J Community Psychol. 2008;28:443–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Sussman NM, Truong N. “Please extinguish all cigarettes”: the effects of acculturation and gender on smoking attitudes and smoking prevalence of Chinese and Russian immigrants. Int J Intercult Relat. 2011;35:163–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Rodham K, Hawton K, Evans E, Weatherall R. Ethnic and gender differences in drinking, smoking and drug taking among adolescents in England: a self-report school-based survey of 15 and 16 year olds. J Adolesc. 2005;28:63–73.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Wallace JM, Bachman JG, O’Malley PM, Schulenberg JE, Cooper SM, Johnston LD. Gender and ethnic differences in smoking, drinking and illicit drug use among American 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, 1976–2000. Addiction. 2003;98:225–34.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    McGee R, Williams S, Poulton R, Moffitt T. A longitudinal study of cannabis use and mental health from adolescence to early adulthood. Addiction. 2000;95:491–503.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Donath C, Grassel E, Baier D, Pfeiffer C, Karagulle D, Bleich S, et al. Alcohol consumption and binge drinking in adolescents: a comparison of different migration backgrounds and rural vs. urban residence—a representative study. BMC Public Health. 2011;11:84.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Denscombe M. Ethnic-group and alcohol consumption: the case of 15–16-years-olds in Leicestershire. J Public Health. 1995;109:133–42.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Hawkins DJ, Catalano RF, Miller JY. Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychol Bull. 1992;112:64–105.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Zambon A, Lemma P, Borraccino A, Dalmasso P, Cavallo F. Socio-economic position and adolescents’ health in Italy: the role of the quality of social relations. Eur J Public Health. 2006;16:627–32.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Bergh D, Hagquist C, Starrin B. Parental monitoring, peer activities and alcohol use: a study based on data on Swedish adolescents. J Drugs Educ Prev Policy. 2011;18:100–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Jane-Llopis E, Matytsina I. Mental health and alcohol, drugs and tobacco: a review of the comorbidity between mental disorders and the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. J Drug Alcohol Rev. 2006;25:515–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Wechsler H, Dowdall GW, Davenport A, Rimm EB. A gender-specific measure of binge drinking among college students. Am J Public Health. 1995;85:982–5.

    CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Dawson DA. Consumption indicators of alcohol dependence. Addiction. 1994;89:345–50.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Monshouwer K, Van Dorsselaer S, Verdurmen J, Ter Bogt T, De Graaf R, Vollebergh W. Cannabis use and mental health in secondary school children. Findings from a Dutch survey. Br J Psychiatry. 2006;188:148–53.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Alsaker F, Dundas I, Olweus D. A growth curve approach to the study of parental relations and depression in adolescence. Seattle: The Biannual Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development; 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Derogatis LR, Lipman RS, Rickels K, Uhlenhuth EH, Covi L. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL): a self-report symptom inventory. Behav Sci. 1974;19:1–15.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Russell D, Peplau LA, Cutrona CE. The revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. J Personal Soc Psychol. 1980;39:472–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    StataCorp. Survey data reference manual: release 11. College Station: StataCorp LP; 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Monshouwer K, Van Dorsselaer S, Van Os J, Drukker M, De Graaf R, Ter Bogt T, et al. Ethnic composition of schools affects episodic heavy drinking only in ethnic-minority students. Addiction. 2007;102:722–9.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Oppedal B, Roysamb E. Mental health, life stress and social support among young Norwegian adolescents with immigrant and host national background. Scand J Psychol. 2004;45:131–44.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Hagquist C. Discrepant trends in mental health complaints among younger and older adolescents in Sweden: an analysis of WHO data 1985–2005. J Adolesc Health. 2010;46:258–64.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research. Alcohol and drugs in Norway. Oslo: Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research; 2012.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Brook JS, Brook DW, Gordon AS, Whiteman M, Cohen P. The psychosocial etiology of adolescent drug use: a family interaction approach. J Soc Psychol. 1990;116:111–267.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Lien L, Sagatun A, Heyerdahl S, Sogaard AJ, Bjertness E. Is the relationship between smoking and mental health influenced by other unhealthy lifestyle factors? Results from a 3-year follow-up study among adolescents in Oslo, Norway. J Adolesc Health. 2009;45:609–17.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors wish to acknowledge and thank Tormod Øia (NOVA) for providing us with the data material.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dawit S. Abebe.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Abebe, D.S., Hafstad, G.S., Brunborg, G.S. et al. Binge Drinking, Cannabis and Tobacco Use Among Ethnic Norwegian and Ethnic Minority Adolescents in Oslo, Norway. J Immigrant Minority Health 17, 992–1001 (2015).

Download citation


  • Binge drinking
  • Alcohol use
  • Cannabis use
  • Tobacco use
  • Ethnic minority
  • Adolescents
  • Immigrants