Billy assumed that his friends only wanted to talk to him, to complain about him “being whipped,” ever since he began seeing Jessica; how he has spent less time with his friends and more time with her. However, his friends were more concerned with his increased drinking habits and substance abuse at parties. Billy’s friends are concerned as he has changed everything about himself for a girl.
Relationships affect alcohol consumption
Billy’s story is an anecdote of an all-too-common occurrence in teens searching for themselves and their place in life. The change does not only occur in romantic relationships as peer pressure from friends and the environment one grows up in can also play a significant role in teen substance abuse.
A recent study in the journal, “Developmental Psychology,” explores the role of relationships and alcohol abuse. Researchers observed 662 girls and 574 boys from ages 12 to 19. The study assesses whether, “Adolescents with romantic partners are less similar to their friends on rates of alcohol abuse than adolescents without romantic partners.” Measuring the variations in alcohol consumption, the study found the influence of a romantic relationship to be stronger than a friendship.
The results mean that an individual will be more likely to mimic the drinking habits of a romantic partner than the habits of friends. For teenagers who are single, peer pressure and the environment can cultivate unhealthy drinking habits.
Teens drink alcohol for a variety of reasons from desiring to fit in to wanting to avoid pain. The sensations are fleeting, however. This only lasts for so long and leads to more problems than solutions.
“Harry Potter” series star Daniel Radcliffe began drinking at 18 to numb the pressures of fame. In the span of time it would take for one to graduate college — Radcliffe found himself abusing alcohol on a nightly basis while daily filming the movies.
“People with problems like that are very adept at hiding it,” Radcliffe said in an interview by The Telegraph. Radcliffe eventually faced his alcohol abuse and beat it, adding, “You either have to change something or give into that shame.” For Radcliffe and others, the turbulence of navigating the landing into mainstream can spur the abusing of substances.
Teenagers face a similar dilemma in spending time with groups of friends, wanting to fit in and find a purpose. Edward F. D. Spencer, Ph.D., writes on the subject of relationships in a culture influenced by alcohol.
Spencer explains how a teenager who does not engage with, “High risk drinking, he/she is looked at by their peers with an attitude of, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ i.e., ‘why aren’t you drinking like we are drinking?’” Teenagers are in the awkward phase of discovering who they are and what their boundaries are. Peer pressure can occur from an individual or a group of people but all teenagers are susceptible to it.
The Rancho San Diego Sovereign Health Facility is for adolescents aged 12 to 17 struggling with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Treatment programs are tailored to the needs of the patient and will treat any co-occurring conditions. Help your teen begin the path toward a brighter future today and call the 24/7 helpline.
Written by Nick Adams, Sovereign Health Group writer