UT Study Shows Teen Drinking Causes Loneliness, Bad Grades

Teens often drink to fit in, but new research out of UT shows that underage alcohol consumption may actually cause social isolation and poor grades among high school students.

UT professors Robert Crosnoe and Aprile Benner worked with Michigan State professor Barbara Schneider to study data on 8,271 adolescents from 126 schools as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Their findings include a correlation between drinking and loneliness, not fitting in at school, and poor academic performance. The negative feelings were especially high among self-reported drinkers in schools where fellow students tended to avoid alcohol and had close-knit cliques.

“This finding doesn’t imply that drinkers would be better off in schools in which peer networks are tightly organized around drinking,” Crosnoe said in a statement. “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.”

The study—which was adjusted for factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, and socioeconomic circumstances—tracked the respondents’ GPAs. The researchers found that drinkers who felt as though they did not fit in had lower GPAs than their peers, by as much as three-tenths of a point from year to year.

In addition to research, UT also leads the way on support services for young adults who are affected by alcohol abuse. This week the University’s Center for Students in Recovery was awarded the 2012 Best Practices in College Health Award by the American College Health Association. The award recognizes the center’s exemplary health education and promotion services.

Photo courtesy Flickr user freya.gefn 


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