Understanding the reasons behind young people’s drinking behaviour may be a key issue in helping develop new techniques to try and reduce this drinking behaviour. In the past it has been suggested that one of the possible reasons that young people choose to drink may be to feel more mature and fit in with their peers. It was though that often young people see adults drinking and feel that alcohol is related to feeling more mature.
However recent research suggests that in the teen years alcohol is not related to feelings of immaturity, but that it is as people grow older (Science Daily, 2012). It appears that feelings of immaturity may not be related to drinking behaviours in young people, but that they are related in older individuals in their mid 20s. The research suggests that due to drinking behaviour at a young age, people can grow up with a confused sense of identity which can lead them to drink even more than they did when they were younger, and thus may report feelings of immaturity. But the researchers found that if an individual were to cut back on their drinking at a later age, this may be able to help them feel higher levels of maturity.
It appears that this may relate to lifestyle choices made by those who continue to drink heavily, compared to those who do not in early adulthood. The study suggests that those who continue to party and drink heavily and regularly often feel much lower levels of maturity when they compare themselves to peers who have already ‘settled down’ and do not drink as regularly. Unfortunately, a potential consequence of this feeling of immaturity is to drink even more in order to combat these negative perceptions of self.
From this research it appears that one of the key issues is to address drinking behaviour as early as possible in life, and try and encourage people to reduce their drinking and focus on their life goals as they get older. If people are able to do this, they will be able to increase their self esteem and hopefully prevent full blown alcoholism in later life.
Science Daily. (2012). Feelings of immaturity accompany alcohol misuse into adulthood. Sourced from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417102604.htm