Health Blog

Teenage Drinking

December 19, 2007

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 is perhaps one of the most frequently broken laws in the United States (See Statistics). A recent study shows four major reasons for high school seniors to booze it up: curiosity, thrill seeking, relaxation and getting away from psychological problems such as anger or frustration.

The study was based on the annual national Monitoring the Future survey, in which 1,877 high school seniors participated this year. It was published in the December, 2007 issue of Prevention Science. Researchers believe that the senior year of high school is a critical point for which to understand the motives for drinking and to establish healthier alcohol use behaviors, because earlier studies showed that alcohol consumption peaks between high school graduation and the age of 25.

In China, where I grew up, drinking is legal at any age. In fact, teenagers are often encouraged to befriend with alcohol, as drinking up a glass of wine when toasting is seen as a gesture of friendship. (Yep, there’s even a saying that goes like that, too.) Luckily enough, we don’t have as many teenage drivers out there (yet…)

Now that minimum drinking ages vary widely across the world, and here in the U.S., many teenagers get drunk despite the law, maybe the least we can do is to prevent early alcohol addiction. Let’s hope some of the ongoing studies will finally shed some light on that.

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About the Author

Jessie has a B.S. degree in chemistry from Peking University in China, where she initially did research on molecular magnetic materials but gradually switched her interest to science writing. Before joining SHERP, she held internships as a reporter at the English-language Shanghai Daily, and at Ogilvy Communications’ Beijing office. She loves writing, and hopes to become a science editor someday as her father has been for decades.

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