Study Finds Teen Drinkers More Likely to Feel Like Social Outcasts
A study recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that adolescents who engage in teenage drinking not only perform poorer academically than their non-drinking peers, but also have much higher tendencies to feel like social outcasts. This is due to the social stress caused by underage drinking.
According to the American Sociological Association, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Michigan State University conducted their study, “Drinking, Socioemotional Functioning, and Academic Progress in Secondary School,” by closely examining the data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Add Health began in 1994 and is the largest comprehensive survey of health-related behavior among adolescents between grades 7 and 12.
In addition to the initial findings that underage drinking is linked to feelings of ostracism and poor academic performance, researchers concluded that these feelings of loneliness and social stress are greatly increased in school environments with student populations that tend to form close-knit cliques and do not abuse alcohol.
“This finding doesn’t imply that drinkers would be better off in schools in which peer networks are tightly organized around drinking,” Crosnoe, a researcher and professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, said. “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.”
These findings will primarily serve to persuade educators to consider these social and emotional circumstances and experiences when evaluating a student’s academic performance. The correlation between teen drinkers who felt socially isolated at school and lower grade point averages demonstrates that there are more factors than previously considered when looking at students’ performances at school.
Melany Boulton is a digital communications intern at Prichard Communications, where she assists on several accounts, including Reclaiming Futures. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in public relations and a minor in business administration.