Exploring Contributing Factors of Solitary Drinking among Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents and Young Adults: A Descriptive Phenomenology

Ka Yan Ho, Katherine Ka Wai Lam, Cynthia Sau Ting Wu, Man Nok Tong, Lai Ngo Tang, Yim Wah Mak

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Adolescents and young adults mostly drink alcohol because of social activities. However, some drink outside of normative social contexts, exhibiting a behaviour pattern known as solitary drinking. Increasing evidence indicates that solitary drinking is strongly associated with problematic drinking in adolescents and young adults. However, it remains unclear why individuals initiate and maintain this drinking habit. To address this gap in the existing literature, the current study explored the factors contributing to solitary drinking in this population. Descriptive phenomenology was used. A convenience sample of 44 solitary drinkers aged between 10 and 24 were invited to undergo individual semi-structured interviews. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed by two researchers separately using Colaizzi’s method. Using qualitative descriptions, the following factors were identified as explaining the initiation and continuation of solitary drinking among adolescents and young adults: (1) enhancement and coping drinking motives, (2) social discomfort, (3) reduced self-control, (4) automatic mental process, and (5) a desperate response to stressors. Since reduced self-control plays an important role in long-term addiction, future studies should be conducted to determine potential applications of mindfulness-based interventions to improve self-control, which may prevent the progression from solitary drinking to alcohol use disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8371
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • adolescent
  • alcohol use disorder
  • qualitative study
  • solitary drinking
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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