Drinking Alone During Adolescence Leads To Alcoholism

By Erika Hanson | Published

teen drinking

Parents and physicians have long lamented concerns over excessive teen drinking and the dangers it can pose. In good news, reports of adolescent alcohol consumption have been gradually decreasing over time. However, there is a growing trend that is concerning many doctors that parents should be aware of. Since the onset of the pandemic, more teenagers are said to be drinking alone. This shift from social drinking to isolated consumption should be worrisome, as a new study suggests that drinking alone in adolescence has a higher chance of turning youth into alcoholics down the road.

A new study published in the Science Direct journal highlights the findings of an extensive research project conducted by Kasey Creswell, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and a team from the University of Michigan. The team examined data from a continuing study of more than 4,500 teens and their drinking habits over the years. Comparing high school seniors who reported drinking alone with those that drank socially, the risk of developing an alcohol disorder was 35% more likely by the age of 35 in those who drank by themselves.

Alcohol disorder, typically called alcoholism, occurs when individuals are unable to control how much alcohol they intake. Generally, people suffering from this disorder have to consume extreme amounts of alcohol to feel its effects and are unable to stop drinking even if they know it is damaging their health. In most instances, alcoholism develops later in life, and now given this new finding, the fact that teen drinking tendencies are shifting to accounts where these youth are drinking alone, the chance of more adolescence developing the disorder in adulthood is troublesome. 

Within the report, one-quarter of the seniors reported that they consumed alcohol while alone. This teen drinking trend seemed to occur most often among females. Given the fact that more women are developing unhealthy drinking habits today as a means to cope with anxiety and depression, this information is even more startling to experts. Across genders, teens are experiencing mental health issues at levels never seen before. Add alcohol into the mix, and they are far more likely to continue using the substance to cope. 

As the general population increases the amount of alcohol they consume during these trying times, more agencies are looking at new ways to steer teen drinking trajectories and help youth cope in healthier ways. Alateen is an organization that provides youth support for children affected by teen drinking, or aid if they have someone in their family that is an alcoholic. The group doesn’t necessarily treat alcoholism from teen drinking, but it is serving as a pathway to advocate children away from the course of isolation and drinking.

teen drinking

The pandemic caused vast, negative changes in ways of life. As parties were canceled, and social bars and clubs shut down, people often turned to at-home liquor cabinets to drown pandemic woes. Unfortunately, this altered teen drinking habits. Now, alcohol trends are shifting, and parents need to be aware of the risks that at home, isolated drinking may pose.