Adolescent Drinking and Social Identity: Finding Their Passion

Teens discovering social identityAt this stage in their life, adolescents have not yet fully formed their critical thinking skills. Unlike how an adult may think, the adolescent brain typically does not have the capability to fully evaluate the choices they make, which certainly places them at higher risk for poor decision making. We often associate those adolescent years with “testing the waters” – so as parents, educators, friends, family and community members, the more aware we are of the vulnerability associated with this stage of development, the better.

A 2016 study published in the journal Health & Place found that for many adolescents, getting “drunk” is the norm; in fact, some would say that it’s part of their social identity. Another study titled “Drinking Over the Lifespan” emphasized that for many adolescents, binge drinking and drunkenness co-occur alongside sexual activity, illicit substance use and poor school performance. Peer pressure is a major consideration, with many teens leaning towards heavy drinking simply because their friends are doing it, too. How can we combat these issues so that our adolescents are able to live healthier lives?

The simple answer is to help them build a life with a healthy sense of identity. Heather Monroe, a psychotherapist at Newport Academy, told Daily Mail in 2017,

“If they have a passion, teens will be less likely to turn to substance abuse.”

By helping our youth become involved in meaningful activities, we can help them enrich their lives. Sports, theatre, band, art, dance and more provide adolescents with the structure they need for after-hour activities, and as they become more involved in games, productions, plays and more, they may feel less compelled to use substances. By building up personal passions, adolescents also develop strong support systems that reinforce the activities they care about.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.