In today’s most obvious studies, new research says that teens are more likely to drink alcohol if their best friends do too. Um, duh. Am I the only one who came to this completely obvious conclusion without the help of a carefully conducted study?
Researchers looked at over 800 teens and found that more teens had their first alcoholic drink because their friends were doing it and not because of any alcoholic family members. And they’re not talking peer pressure here – it’s more about having access to alcohol because your friends do. So basically, or at least when it comes to drinking, your friends have more of an influence on you than your family does.
This makes a lot of sense to me. One, I’ve seen it happen a bazillion times. Two, that’s pretty much exactly what happened to me. Story time!
When I entered my freshman year of high school, I had zero interest in drinking. Alcohol freaked me out and getting drunk freaked me out even more (there was this traumatizing moment a few years back when I was on vacation and saw a naked, drunk man dancing on the beach for a huge crowd… let’s not talk about it). To me, getting wasted meant doing something stupid that would cause me to embarrass myself, throwing up (I have a phobia) and being homeless (that’s what my grandma told me).
However, I was apparently the only freshman who thought this way. No, that’s an exaggeration. My number one crush was straight-edge and a few other kids in my class stayed away from booze. But my group of besties, most of whom were older than me, drank… a lot. It made me a little nervous, but mostly I was fine with it. I was always the sober one laughing at their ridiculous antics and patting myself on the back for being so angelic.
But towards the end of freshman year, I started getting really curious about drinking. I was scared, but I also sort of wanted to try it. After all, all of my friends were doing it and they were fine – so it couldn’t be too bad, right? When my friends exchanged silly drunken stories, I felt left out. I was the only sober one and I was sick of it.
So, to the disappointment of my middle school besties and my crush, I started drinking. My high school BFF, V, couldn’t have been happier. I was obviously an extremely cautious drinker, never mixing different kinds of alcohol, refusing to chug or take shots and rarely having more than two drinks. V was an “experienced” drinker and could gulp down shots just as quickly as the senior boys.
She started a “game” where she forced me to drink every time she drank. At first, I played along like it was a joke… but it quickly started to get annoying. One night, I just wasn’t in the mood. When I told her I didn’t feel like it, she pushed my drink to my lips and said, “Drink, J, drink!” I snapped back, “No! Just stop, okay?” It was the last time we played the game.
Would I have started drinking if all of my friends around me weren’t doing it? Honestly, probably not. I had never had an interest in it until alcohol became readily available to me through my friends. When I started dating my first BF, that straight-edge crush, I stopped drinking entirely. And when we broke up, and I started spending time with a group of glorified alcoholics from my job (harsh but true), I started drinking again. And now that I’m with my current BF, who’s not really into that stuff? You guessed it – I’m not a big drinker anymore.
So yeah, I think your friends definitely have a huge influence on whether you’re going to drink or not – at least for me. It’s easy to get sucked into a routine that all of your besties have, even if you never had any intention of doing so. I don’t think that makes you a weak person… I think it’s sort of normal. And as obvious as this study might be, I still think it’s pretty interesting.
One thing to keep in mind? Always do what makes you happy… don’t just do what your friends are doing because it’s there and it’s happening. Trust me.
Have you ever done something just because all of your friends were doing it? Would you start drinking to fit in with your friends? Have you ever done that? Do you agree with this study? Tell us in the comments.