Family, friends, schools contribute to teens’ alcohol misuse

November 14th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 14 (IANS) Family members, friends, schools and neighbourhoods, all contribute actively or passively to alcohol misuse by adolescents.Characteristics present in the these four social environments contribute to whether teens misuse alcohol, with risk from one area possibly being magnified or decreased by attributes of another.

That is the finding of a new study conducted by researchers at the Universities of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) California (Davis) and California (Irvine).

Previous research on teen drinking has focussed mostly on individuals’ ties to friends and family members.

This study suggests the need for a more inclusive view of the social world of adolescents and highlights the importance of examining the connections between all of the social environments in which they live.

The researchers used data from 6,544 teens aged 11 to 17 enrolled in three public school systems in North Carolina, surveying them every six months for a total of five times.

The adolescents were in grades 6, 7, and 8 when they were first surveyed, and in grades 8, 9, and 10 at the end of the study, according to a release of the Society for Research in Child Development.

The study used information from the teens to measure their misuse of alcohol, including heavy drinking, and to gauge negative consequences associated with drinking, such as getting into fights.

The study also collected information by telephone from parents of the teens and data from the US Census.

The researchers found that characteristics present in all four social environments - family, peers, schools, and neighbourhoods - played a role in whether teens misused alcohol.

They also found that the adolescents generally were more likely to misuse alcohol the more they were exposed to alcohol use by others in their social environments.

The study will appear in the November-December issue of Child Development.

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