Check out these new stats from a study released yesterday by The Partnership at Drugfree.org (formerly Partnership for a Drug Free America):
- Almost half of teens (45 percent) reported they do not see a “great risk” in heavy daily drinking.
- Only 31 percent of teens strongly disapprove of teens and peers their age getting drunk.
- A majority of teens, seven out of 10 (73 percent), report having friends who drink alcohol at least once a week.
- While the number one reason teens reported using alcohol is that they think “it’s fun to drink” (60 percent), a significant number of teens reported using alcohol to deal with stress.
- One in three (32 percent) teens said they drank “to forget their troubles.”
- Almost one in four (24 percent) said they used alcohol to help them “deal with problems at home.”
- One in five (20 percent) teens reported they drank to “deal with the pressures and stress of school.”
I don’t know. When I see numbers like this, all I can think is, “That sounds like so many adults.” Stress, dealing problems at home, forgetting their troubles…that’s all stuff adults should and do worry about. I don’t remember thinking that drinking was a good answer for anything I was dealing with as a teenager, but to be fair, my peer group wasn’t using anything to self-medicate either. I’ve heard students talk about needing to unwind, to that they just need to chill, that they’ve had a “hard week” (almost every week)…all things that sound like very adult things to say. I can’t help but think that these kids will never know life outside of the rat race, and they will become members of society consumed with anxiety and depression as a result of many years of stress.
It’s harder than ever to be a teen, but do they have to worry on the same level as adults? This is a result of so many aspects of life right now – society, media, peer pressure – all working together to create the storm that is adolescence. It’s hard to know what to do to help out our young people, and sometimes it’s not simple. It may be that we just remind them of their continuing brain development, and continue to show them that we care. We can’t save them from themselves, but we can tell them that their pain is hard to watch.
Why a whole blog post devoted to this? Because the results of this study touch our education system. They affect all-important student-teacher relationships. They affect student performance. And, because knowing about these results may make you a better educator or mentor for someone who is suffering.