Teen Drinking: The Danger’s in the Motivation

Thursday, December 6, 2007

There are many reasons why high school seniors choose to drink alcohol: experimentation, to get a thrill or maybe in an attempt to unwind. But the most dangerous motivation is a combination of those plus the desire to escape from problems and deal with anger and frustration.

According to new research, teens with multiple reasons to drink including reasons related to coping with problems are most likely to display the heaviest and most dangerous drinking behaviors.

Researchers from Penn State collected data from 1,877 students taken from the annual national Monitoring the Future survey in 2004. “Students who had multiple reasons to drink including reasons related to coping, were also more likely to begin drinking at an earlier age, more likely to be drunk in the past year and more likely to drink before 4:00 pm, compared to students who drank to experiment with alcohol, to experience the thrill of drinking or just to relax,” Penn State researcher Donna Coffman, Ph.D., was quoted saying.

According to study authors, more than three-quarters of high school seniors have tried alcohol or are drinking regularly, so it’s too late to tell them not to drink. They say it’s important to figure out why a teenager is drinking because drinking patters that develop during adolescence are likely to continue into adulthood.

source: Prevention Science, 2007;8:241-248