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Abstract

We analysed whether there were associations among different aspects of social network and social support, on one hand, and heavy drinking and alcohol problems on the other. The study sample (h = 621) comprised a random half of all male residents bom in 1914 in Malmö, Sweden. Five hundred (80.5%) participated. Heavy drinking was defined as an alcohol consumption above 250 g alcohol per week and alcohol problems were assessed by a modified Michigan Alcoholism Screening test. Eight conceptually differential aspects of social networks and social support were measured. Four of five social network indices (social anchorage, social participation, contact frequency, spousal support) were associated with heavy drinking (OR 1.9–2.5) and two social network indices (social anchorage, spousal support) were associated with alcohol problems (OR 2.1–2.3). The results in this study are independent of social class, but based on a cross-sectional study, so we do not know if heavy drinking has caused social isolation or the contrary. If these results can be verified in a prospective study, a strengthening of the social network of the individual could perhaps lead to more moderate alcohol habits and better health, a finding of potential importance in the field of health promotion.