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19 April 2012

Why Teens do or Don’t Drink Alcohol

Keywords: alcohol, survey, teens, North America,

This study published in Addictive Behaviors provides insights on the reasons why teens drink or don’t drink alcohol. In turns out that teens with stronger motives not to drink consume less alcohol now , as well as later in their lives.

Take aways

  • Teens with stronger motives not to drink consume less alcohol now and in the future. 
  • Social motivations (e.g., belong to the group) are more important than the negative effects of drinking behavior in a teen’s decisions to drink alcohol.
  • Therefore, prevention programs should focus on the positive social outcomes of nondrinking. 

Study information

  • The question?

    What are the motives for teens to drink or not to drink alcohol, and do these motives really affect their alcohol consumption behavior? 

  • Who?

    More than 2,500 high school students (mean age: 16 years; half boys, half girls); predominantly Caucasian ethnicity 

  • Where?

    USA: Pacific Northwest and San Diego County 

  • How?

    Participants had to fill out a survey including questions about problems they experienced from alcohol consumption, their alcohol use, and their motive to drink and not to drink alcohol. 

Facts and findings

  • Religious engagement of teens could be seen as a motive not to drink.
  • Social motivations were more important in a teen’s decisions to drink, even though these teens had an enhanced motivation to avoid negative effects of alcohol use. 
  • Having both stronger motives and expectancies not to drink led to a decreased likelihood of current drinking for teens.
  • Motives to drink predicted being a current drinker, but were unrelated to problematic drinking later on in life.
  • Younger teens and girls had stronger motivations not to drink compared to older teens and boys. 
  • Problematic drinking was more common with boys and students of color.