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What are the Causes of Teenage Drinking?

By Michelle Bolyn

According to KidsHealth, about 80 percent of high school students have tried drinking an alcoholic beverage even though the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. It’s important that parents understand the reasons teens drink and the importance of talking to their kids at an early age about the dangers of drinking. The Mayo Clinic reports that some consequences of teen drinking include car accidents related to drinking, being robbed, assaulted or raped, having sex, issues at school and becoming dependent on alcohol.

School-Related Stress reports that in a survey of middle school and high school students, about three-fourths reported that teens drink because of pressures at school. Many teens feel pressured to be successful at school, so they can get into a good college, which will help them get a good job upon graduation. It’s not enough for students to get average grades. Many feel pressured to join clubs, do well at sports and be the top of their class. This pressure can lead to drinking and drugs if the teen doesn’t know how to cope with the stress in healthy ways.

Other things at school, such as bullying and peer pressure, can cause a teen to experience stress and turn to alcohol. The most important group of people in an adolescent’s life is his peers and friends. If his peers make fun of him, don’t accept him or threaten him, he might use alcohol as a way to escape.


A teen might begin to use alcohol or drugs to deal with the stress of major transitions in her life. Some of those transitions include moving to a new city or state, changing from middle to high school, obtaining a driver’s license and graduating from high school. Some of these transitions are exciting, but they might be stressful as well.

Issues at Home

Teens who have problems at home are more likely to drink or use drugs. If a teen’s parents argue constantly, get into physical fights or use alcohol regularly, he might try drinking. Some adolescents drink to have fun or to relax socially, but many teens start or continue drinking to try to cope with feelings that they don’t know how to handle.

Mental Health Issues

Another reason that some teens drink regularly is because they suffer from a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety, and haven’t received professional help. A teen might not realize that the feelings she’s having are depression or that the anxiety she constantly feels on a daily basis is because of an anxiety disorder. The teen might use alcohol to numb her feelings.

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