Underage Drinking Likely Spurred by Alcohol Habits of Friends of Romantic Partners

Saturday, October 01, 2011

According to new research, adolescents are much more likely to drink if the friends of their girlfriends and boyfriends also drink. What that means is that the drinking habits of the friends of a teen’s romantic partner are much more important factors in determining drinking behavior than the drinking habits of adults or other friends in their lives.

Those are curious findings, but researchers have an explanation. According to them, adolescents are likely to desire to be like the friends of their significant others, in order to strengthen their relationship with their partner. They may want to emulate the habits of their partner's friends, including drinking habits, in order to impress the partner.

The results of the study have been published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review. The research is based on a survey of students in grades seven through twelve. The research found that an adolescent’s chances of binge drinking or drinking in excess increased by more than 100% if he or she was dating someone who had friends who drank heavily. It didn’t matter so much if the romantic partner drank heavily or not, but if his or her friends did.

This adoption of a romantic partner’s friends’ alcohol use practices also seems to work in a reverse manner. The research found that when an underage drinker had a romantic partner whose friends did not drink, the person was likely to cut down on drinking.

What the research seems to point out to Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers is that adolescents and college students are continually being exposed to new social environments leading to new drinking habits. This may in turn lead to underage or college DUI charges.