Romantic Partner's Friends Influence Teen Drinking

It is no secret that peer pressure is a part of teen life; classrooms and teen social gatherings are often breeding grounds for pressuring one’s peers. Who teenagers associate with heavily influences decisions that are made, sometimes in a good way but more often than not in a bad way. It turns out that one’s boyfriend or girlfriend’s friends have a greater influence on the other than one’s own friends or significant other, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.

Researchers conducting the study found that dating someone whose friends drink heavily increases one’s chance of taking part in the same behavior. A teenager is more than twice as likely to binge drink if his or her partner’s friends drink a lot, which was not the case with teens whose own friends or partner drink heavily, according to the study. On the flip side, dating someone whose friends don’t drink actually detracts a teen from drinking, notes the lead author of the study. Binge drinking is a common problem and of the most concern considering the dangers associated with frequent binge drinking. Every year teenagers die from engaging in dangerous drinking either from alcohol poisoning or automobile accidents. HealthDay reports that the data used in the study came from a national survey of 449 teen couples in the mid-1990s.

“The friends of a partner are likely to be very different from the adolescent and his or her friends and they might also be, at least a little, different from the partner,” lead author Derek Kreager said in a news release. “Adolescents are motivated to be more like their partner’s friends in an effort to strengthen their relationship with their partner.”

Typically a teen’s goal is to be liked by many people and they often associate drinking with being cool because that’s what the “cool kids” do! Teens will take risks on the word of their peers or face the possibility of losing their friends for not taking part.

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