Why do teenagers drink alcohol?

Recently, the news has been flooded with stories related to teenagers and alcohol. This leaves many people asking: why? Why do teenagers drink alcohol? Well, as a 16 year old teenager of today, I will do my best to explain.

In the UK, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy, or try to buy alcohol from a pub or a store (with the exception of 16-17 year olds accompanied by an adult who are permitted to buy beer or wine with a table meal). Young people caught drinking in public can have their alcohol taken away from them, and may even be fined or arrested. However, it is not illegal for teenagers to drink alcohol whilst in their own home or at a friend’s house. Although this is fine in moderation, many teenagers find themselves exceeding the recommended limits.

In fact, in the UK, more than eight out of ten fifteen year olds, and five out of ten eleven to twelve year olds already claim to have tried alcohol. But why?

Teenagers drink for a variety of different reasons which may be misunderstood by people outside their own peer group.

One of the things that attracts teenagers to alcohol is the idea that by drinking,  they are taking a risk which can provide them with a thrill, as they are underaged and so are not legally supposed to be drinking. As they are still young and inexperienced, in most cases they do not fully know what will happen when experimenting with alcohol, leading to curiosity. As teens are still developing, they often act impulsively to such curiosity, without considering the potential consequences of their actions.

Many teens also drink in order to try and relieve stress. Many times, teenagers may find themselves overcome with school work, relationship issues and other personal problems. By drinking, they may find that these problems temporarily disappear, which may cause them to turn to the substance more and more often as they try to relax and get away from reality.

As many adults often drink an alcohol around their families, their children may associate it with something which is for adults only. Therefore, by drinking it themselves, they may feel older and more mature, as they are at an age where they do not want to be viewed as a child anymore.

Lastly, and possibly one of the largest reasons for teenagers drinking is drinking in order to  fit in with their peers, as they crave acceptance. Many believe that drinking alcohol will make them seem more ‘cool’ in front of their friends, and will improve their social status. As they are with their friends, they don’t have to worry about their parents finding out, which gives them a sense of freedom. As they are still young, many teens will not have experienced this much freedom before, and so they may take advantage of it by doing things that they wouldn’t normally be allowed to do if their parents were there, such as drinking alcohol.

Many teenagers are also peer pressured into drinking alcohol by their friends, and they may be teased or mocked if they refuse. As a person’s self-esteem is often quite vulnerable during their teenage years, this can have quite a large impact on them as they struggle to fit in, and many give into peer pressure in order to be accepted by those around them.