Researching into alcohol use by adolescents

By | August 11, 2015
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Teenage Couple Taking Drugs At HomeBecoming a teenager is a very dynamic developmental period and in this period, a lot of young people tend to engage in behaviors and form habits which could potentially be harmful for them both health wise as well as socially. One of the major concerns of this time period is teenage drinking particularly with the rise in the numbers of under 18 who have begun to consume alcohol. The use of alcohol has also been found to be associated with violence and abuse. When trying to understand the reason behind such behaviors, a thorough understanding is needed which takes into consideration the interplay of the individual himself, his family as well as his social environment. The Belfast Youth Development Study has collected data on the use of alcohol and parental monitoring to understand this issue.

The aim of the project was to test causal hypothesis which explain the long term relationship between adolescents with their parents; to test the impact of peers and school on drinking and monitoring as well as investigating patterns of monitoring dimensions and how their association changes with alcohol when other factors are taken into consideration.

The results of the study suggested that a bi-directional association exists between the frequencies of alcohol use as well as parental monitoring out of which monitoring was seen to be the more influential element. Those who drank a lot of alcohol during their young age tended to have a lack of parental monitoring when they grow up. Those who had reported that they had begun to drink earlier experienced lower rates of monitoring in the upcoming years.

Out of the methods assessed through which parents gathered monitoring information from their children, parental solicitation was found to have no connection with the use of alcohol while parental control through comparison was seen to be having a strong connection with the use of alcohol. Those participants whose parents had more control over their free time reported to drink less often. A distinct pattern suggested that those who engaged in the use of alcohol had lower levels of parental monitoring in comparison.

Despite taking into account the factors which influence the individual rate of drinking, there were some schools which had higher rates in comparison to others. This could also be because of parental monitoring having a difference between schools. While in some, parental monitoring was used to prevent the use of alcohol amongst adolescents, others offered little or no protection.  A risk factor however was present when a school had higher proportions of drinkers than non-drinkers.

The final results were with regard to monitoring, the use of alcohol and attachment. When examined on its own, positive parental attachment and high monitoring levels had a positive effect and helped in reducing the use of alcohol but when an inter-relationship of these factors was considered, parental attachment showed no effect on the use of alcohol while low monitoring led to a rise in drinking.

Such findings can be helpful in studying the development of adolescents and use of alcohol amongst them. The field of family support, youth alcohol policy as well as alcohol harm reduction can also make use of such findings.


Nicki is a professional social analyst and blogger. Her work on teen parental safety and social issues has collected great appreciation from readers. She is passionate about latest technology and user experience.

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