There are numerous reasons as to why high school seniors drink, which include experimenting with alcohol, for the thrill of it, and to relax. Now, a new study has found that besides all these factors, another reason could be to get away from problems and to deal with anger or frustration issues.
According to the new study, kids with multiple reasons to drink, including reasons related to coping with life, show the heaviest and most problematic drinking behaviours.
The findings are based on a data, which included 1,877 students from the national Monitoring the Future survey conducted annually.
"Our study found that for the graduating class of 2004, students who had multiple reasons to drink, including reasons related to coping, were also more likely to begin drinking at an earlier age, more likely to be drunk in the past year and more likely to drink before 4:00 pm, compared to students who drank to experiment with alcohol, to experience the thrill of drinking or just to relax," Donna Coffman, Ph.D., of Penn State, said.
"It is important to know why high school seniors drink so parents, teachers and high school counsellors can pay special attention to the needs of the small but high-risk group of seniors who offer multiple reasons for drinking and who also have anger or frustration issues. Research shows that drinking patterns established during adolescence are likely to continue through adulthood," she added.
Researchers said the focus of their study was to identify the major motivations for drinking, find out if the motivations were different for boys and girls, and understand how the different motivations for drinking among boys and girls were related to drinking initiation, frequency of drunkenness and daytime drinking.
"Boys were more likely to belong to the higher-risk group of thrill seekers, while girls were more likely to belong to the lowest level of risky drinking, the experimenters. Both boys and girls who drank just to experiment with alcohol were also more likely to initiate drinking at a later age, compared to those who drank for other reasons" Coffman said.
Compared to the experimenters, boys who reported drinking before 4 p.m. were eight times more likely to belong to the highest-risk group that drank for multiple reasons; girls who drank before 4 p.m. were six times more likely to belong to the group that drank for multiple reasons.
Coffman said that their study looked at a representative sample of one graduating class.
"We cannot say our results apply to all graduating classes after 2004, but the findings should certainly be useful to educators, prevention experts and parents," she said.
Prior studies have found that alcohol use reaches its peak level during and immediately after high school graduation. It remains high through the age of 25, "that is why the senior year of high school is a critical point for which to understand the motives for drinking and to establish healthier alcohol use behaviours," Coffman said.
The study is published in the December issue of Prevention Science, a peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research.