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The right place at the right time: The social contexts of combined alcohol and energy drink use
Aims: Little is known about the social and functional aspects of alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) consumption. Using a functional substance use perspective and via the lens of social identity theory, this paper aims to explore the role of AmED consumption amongst the milieu of nightlife and party culture.
Methods: Twenty-five regular AmED consumers aged 18–33 participated in semi-structured interviews. Qualitative thematic analysis of transcripts was undertaken, with a focus on the social contexts and perceived functions of AmED consumption, group dynamics and social identity.
Findings: Three main themes were identified: (i) AmED use was restricted to specific social contexts, (ii) AmED use performed a social function and (iii) AmED users identified with a coherent and consistent social identity. AmED use was almost exclusively reported to occur within group drinking scenarios at parties and licensed venues, particularly nightclubs. AmED users identified with a clear and consistent social identity that was distinct from other alcohol consumers, typified by gregarious and extroverted behaviour. AmED use was seen to facilitate these ideals and strengthen group cohesion in appropriate contexts.
Conclusions: Future efforts aiming to elicit changes in AmED consumption practices must account for the fundamental importance of social contexts to AmED use.
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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