Experimentation with alcohol is common amongst teens, though that trend has been on the decline.
But why do teens drink in the first place?
There can be several reasons:
Peer pressure can be a strong force in a teen’s life. The need to “fit in” and pressure from their peers is a big factor in whether or not they will engage in risky behaviors like underage drinking. Saying “no” can be difficult for teens, especially if someone is giving them a hard time about not drinking; it can make them feel like an “outcast.”
Peer pressure can be overt or inadvertent—a person can offer them a drink directly or they might notice the different groups of kids drinking.
Teens can help manage peer pressure by:
- Understanding the risks of underage drinking
- Keeping themselves busy with extracurricular hobbies like sports
- Maintaining healthy relationships and finding a group that is making healthy choices
- Knowing that some people “talk themselves up” and actually do not do the things they say they do
Coping With Stress or Anxiety
With new responsibilities, changes in hormones, and the pressure of school and jobs, being a teen is stressful. Teens are finding their place in life and thinking about the future. With all of that stress, it can be easy to turn to alcohol to alleviate it. Alcohol releases endorphins and can lead to positive feelings during stress, but over time it can worsen mental and physical health.
If your teen is experiencing excess stress or anxiety, listen to and support them. Share your own experiences with stress and anxiety to let them know that they are not alone and that if symptoms continue, you will help them find a professional that can help.
Romanticization from Media
From a very young age, teens see advertising messages and media about alcohol. Those who consume it in commercials, movies, and TV are shown as beautiful people enjoying life. It can make drinking seem cool. Inaccurate information about alcohol is one of the most preventable causes of underage drinking.
Talk To Your Teen About Alcohol
Taking the time to talk to your teen about alcohol will help them understand the risks that come with underage drinking and help them make healthy decisions. When talking, set a time, talk with respect, and listen to what they have to say. This will go a long way in showing that you take a genuine interest in their life.
If you yourself drink, do so responsibly to set a good example for your teen. If there is a history of alcohol addiction in your family, talk to your teen about it to help them understand the elevated risk.