This paper presents a descriptive analysis of data gathered by personal interviews from a multistage random sample of 1640 residents aged 18–34 years in Wuhan, China. First, alcohol drinkers and abstainers were compared based on demographic, attitude, and belief variables. Next, the drinkers from the sample were classified into four groups based on frequency-quantity of alcohol use, and the frequency-quantity groups were compared on the same variables. For Abstainers versus Drinkers, we found no difference by age or gender in this sample. Married people and people with children were more likely to be abstainers. University-educated, currently-employed individuals in mid-level jobs were more likely to abstain from alcohol. Vocational/Technical graduates, people who were currently attending college, currently unemployed and never-employed individuals were more likely to be drinkers. Abstainers also responded with less-positive attitudes and beliefs about drinking and attached more importance to reasons for not drinking compared to drinkers. When the drinking frequency-quantity groups were compared, gender differences became significant: more high-quantity drinkers were women; however the guideline for quantity for women was >1 drink at a time compared to >2 drinks at a time for men. Quantity and frequency of drinking was significantly associated with having children, educational level, employment status, and type of occupation. Age, marital status, and being in college did not relate significantly with quantity and frequency of drinking alcohol. Attitudes and beliefs about drinking tended to be more positive among high-frequency and high-quantity drinkers. Drinkers in all frequency-quantity groups attached greater importance to social reasons for drinking compared to personal/psychological reasons for drinking. Drinkers in the lowest frequency-quantity group attached the most importance to reasons for not drinking. These findings confirmed that in China drinking plays an important role in socializing and celebrating, and that there are important differences between alcohol drinkers and abstainers and between frequency/quantity groups of drinkers. Western models of individualized motivation of behaviors may not accurately explain alcohol use in China. We believe the findings from this study suggest the need for more detailed studies of alcohol drinking and abstaining.
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