According to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, teenagers who drink a lot may feel like social outcasts, especially in a school environment composed of close-knit groups with low levels of alcohol abuse.

Researchers collected data on 8,271 adolescents from 126 schools from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The index, which began in 1994, is reportedly the largest and most comprehensive health-related survey of participants between grades seven and 12. Based on their analysis, the study authors concluded that there is a connection between drinking and social problems across all school environments. This link, however, intensifies in schools where the students aren’t big drinkers and have tightly knit relationships.

According to Robert Crosnoe, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the study authors, students who drink may feel more like outcasts when in the company of non-drinkers. "This finding doesn't imply that drinkers would be better off in schools in which peer networks are tightly organized around drinking," he says. "Instead, the results suggest that we need to pay attention to youth in problematic school environments in general but also to those who may have trouble in seemingly positive school environments."

In addition, students who have social problems tend to let their grades slip. Because they are burdened by their circumstances, they’re less focused on their academic performance. This is true even for school environments where students value academic standing. "Given that social development is a crucial component of schooling, it's important to connect these social and emotional experiences of drinking to how teenagers are doing academically," Crosnoe says.

While this study breaks a stereotypical image of teens, it doesn't hide the fact that adolsecents who turn to alochol have serious problems that need to be addressed. That's why parents need to maintain open communication lines with their teens so that problems can be immediately identified and resolved.

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(Photo by lizfaqoli via sxc.hu)

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