Study: Teens See Drinking Alcohol As Normal For Their Age

By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An annual survey called the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study is showing that teens think drinking is normal for their age. Cues from their environment may be playing a role.

Over recent years the trend in teen drinking was down, but now it’s up.

“Teens generally follow what they see going on in their neighborhoods and their families. They’re certainly affected by the media and what they see in TV shows and in the movies,” Dr. Jonathan Pletcher, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital, said.

In school surveys of more than 2,500 teens in grades 9 through 12, almost half saw no great risk in having five drinks or more in a sitting nearly every day. Three out of four teens have friends who drink alcohol at least once a week. Among teens who drink, two-thirds of them had their first full alcoholic drink by age 15. Also, compared to 2008, in 2010, marijuana and ecstasy use are up.

“I would say the most disturbing is the normalcy, the idea that they see this as a normal thing, drinking at a young age and the number of drinks and kids will always base their idea of normal on what they see around them,” Dr. Pletcher continued.

The teens say they drink to forget their troubles or to deal with problems at home or school.

More than 800 parents were surveyed in person as well and feel unprepared to handle underage drinking. Dr. Pletcher says they can get help from books, websites and counseling.

“It all begins with role modeling. Kids will definitely follow what their parents are doing. So that may be the best thing parents can do is be a good role model in regards to alcohol use,” Dr. Pletcher added.

Being involved in their children’s lives will help parents spot signs of trouble with substance abuse, like a change in mood, friends, fashion, grades, secrecy and using mouthwash and room deodorizers to mask the smell of drugs and alcohol.

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    If I see teens drinking and smoking pot I will tell.

  • Mike

    blame society and this beautiful happy world we live in

  • LindaMarie Linkhauer

    I guess it is normal…., to kill someone behind the wheel of a car,while YOU, drink and drive too….? right ? Tell THAT…! To the parents of the daughter or son you killed….while you survived the accident. Better yet…,lets make that a little stronger…,Tell THAT,too the family of the NEW Born Baby and Mother,laying in the front seat…,Dead,because you think it’s Normal to drink and drive.

  • Jim

    They’re influenced by media? But I thought all the gangster thugs claimed their music imitates life…not the other way around. I feel betrayed…

  • Mandela

    Teens like to drink! Always will. Get over it.

  • Daniele M

    Yeahhh Mandela is right, ! This has been going on since our parents were in school its just not sooooo bad because the world has progressed and more teens are driving and maneuvering more easily.! Grow up

    • Daniele M

      I meant its just soooooo bad MINUS the not

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