Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Link Between Anxiety and Teen Drinking

MSNBC reported on a new study in the journal “Alcohol and Alcoholism” that shows that teens with generalized anxiety disorder may drink more than other teens. The authors of the study, a group of Finnish researchers from the University of Tampere, found that these same teens are also more likely to be using alcohol two years later.

Of the teens participating in the study, 65 percent of those with anxiety who said they drank weekly at the start of the study were still drinking weekly two years later; 55 percent of those without the disorder reported still drinking weekly.

While other factors also influence teen alcohol use, including genetics and family, especially parental, use of alcohol, the study points to the need to educate teens about both mental health and the effects of using alcohol and other drugs. If a teen has more information about mental health issues, he or she may be able to seek help from a professional if a problem arises, rather than turning to alcohol to self-medicate. More knowledge about the effects of alcohol could also make teens realize that drinking is not a solution to problems.

Parental involvement is also important – if parents notice that their child seems anxious, they should talk to him or her before alcohol use enters the picture, and if a teen is already drinking, his or her parents should look out for signs that indicate that an underlying anxiety problem is causing that behavior.

-Alyssa Flisiak

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