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Survey: Teens are feeling less pressure to drink, use drugs

| Mar 9, 2019 | Underage Drinking |

Parents may find some relief in a recent survey by Axios that indicates that teens are less likely to consume alcohol, use drugs or engage in sex than their parents were at that age. Researchers attribute the drop in those behaviors to several key factors. These include the fact that people are having fewer children and watching them more carefully than even a couple of decades ago.

Another reason, which could come with its own set of problems, is that teens today are under more pressure to earn grades that will get them into their chosen college. While that pressure can minimize their likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, it also creates a good deal of anxiety in many teens.

In fact, in a recent study by Pew Research, teens were more likely to name anxiety as a major concern over drugs, bullying or poverty. The seemingly endless barrage of bad news — including mass shootings at schools and other places frequented by teens — is one cause of this anxiety.

In the Pew survey, over 60 percent of teens said they felt more pressure to get good grades than anything else. Sixty-plus percent also said they felt pressure to participate in extracurricular activities, to fit in socially and to look good. Only about 15 percent said they felt pressure to drink or use drugs.

Social media has played a role in the amount of pressure teens feel to fit in socially. Like adults, kids often craft an image of themselves on social media that’s far better than reality. This can create unrealistic expectations within their peer group.

Of course, every teen is unique. Stress over grades and everything else they have to balance can lead to unhealthy behavior like underage drinking. So can pressure to fit in.

An arrest for underage drinking and/or a DUI can threaten a teen’s chances of getting into the college of their choice and obtaining a scholarship. It can have more immediate consequences to their high school extracurricular activities, such as their ability to remain on a sports team or keep their after-school job. That’s why it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance to help mitigate those consequences.