Experience of Being a Young Adult Who Abstains From Alcohol Consumption

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Luz Patricia Diaz Heredia, PhD, MSN, RN
Nursing Faculty, National University od Colombia, Bogotá Colombia, Colombia


This work sought to understand the meaning of the experience of being a young adult who abstains from consuming alcohol.

The phenomenon of alcohol consumption in the young adult population in the world, Latin America, and Colombia has evolved in recent years and is currently a social, public health, political, and economic problem that affects youth and society (1).

Non-consumption as the result of therapeutic processes has been described and its components indicated in individuals who have had alcohol addiction problems, but little is known on the factors that mediate non-consumption in those who have never done it (2). Understanding the significance of the experience of not consuming alcohol within a society that promotes consumption is important because it will permit promoting healthy lifestyles in young adults (3). Youth is a period in life when higher degrees of consumption and addiction are established or when healthy behaviors are structured (4). Nursing, by being a practical discipline with orientation and social commitment, can contribute to knowledge in the area of addictions by recognizing these components seen from the potentiality of the people under their care. This study sought to understand the meaning of the experience of being a young adult who does not consume alcohol in a university setting


 This was a qualitative research with phenomenological approach conducted from an interpretative perspective (Van Manen), used to collect qualitative data through the application of an in-depth interview. To the moment, three informants have been interviewed, who were intentionally invited because they were members of a university community. The interviews were recorded and these lasted between 40 minutes and one hour. The informed consent was signed, maintaining the ethical principles of research with human beings.

Van Manen indicates that the method is aimed at: 1) concentrating on a phenomenon that is truly of interest and which is committed with the world; 2) researching the experience on the way it is undertaken and not on how it is conceptualized; 3) reflecting on the essential aspects that characterize the phenomenon; 4) describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting; 5) maintaining a solid pedagogical relation with the phenomenon and aimed at it; and 6) balancing the context of the research, always considering the parts and the whole (5).


The analysis performed permitted identifying two large themes: recognition of the importance of caring for the body; in this sense, the body is conceived as a good that must be protected and not damaged with alcohol. It is recognized that alcohol is harmful to physical and spiritual health, affects the person’s performance, making them carry out actions that no good to them or to society. It is noted that not consuming helps with self-care and promotes wellness.

“How am I going to damage my body?. I conceive that body and soul must be in harmony and try to eat well, avoid consuming things that harm me; if one has the integral conception of spirituality, one avoids excess”. (e1, p1 r 17)

“My character is quite strong; I say I don’t do it and don’t because I have high self-esteem”. (e 3, p 4 , r 17)

“Suddenly you note what is caused by excessive consumption, like accidents, abuse, how some men are transformed and you see some women being hurt by men when they are drunk. I experienced it myself and got very violent. And I don’t feel secure when I drink”. (e 3, p 3, r 18)

“Because if there are no drinks in the party, the party is bad because I don’t always need to feel drunk to get disinhibited, because I feel okay with myself and can be spontaneous without drinking”. (e1, p 4, r 11)

“I feel I enjoy the party or reunion if I am sober”. (e 3, p 2,r 16)

 The other theme is feel well with themselves when they are responsible for their actions, they have the opportunity of acting freely and being responsible and aware of themselves. Alcohol can be considered a buffer to stressful situations, but when it is not consumed one is completely capable and one has power over issues of life, in addition to enjoying more. One has clarity and the possibility to make decisions without pressure and subsequent feelings of guilt.

“…it has to do with the theme of responsibility because it becomes sort of a way to atone guilt in alcohol, which makes no sense that even legally, that is, when you decide to start drinking; that is where your decision is and when you must assume all the consequences. It even seemed interesting to me that people drank as if engaging in the exercise of drinking, in other words, I make decision to drink with all the consequences this brings, whether good, bad and whatever, but it is not so, it is like a thing of inertia”. (e2, p6, r20)


This partial result permits evidencing that significance constructed is in line with the value individuals have of their own being, of their capacity to control situations, and of their responsibility with themselves and with life.

Further information must be collected to more completely understand the meaning.