Friends of Teen’s Romantic Partner Can Influence Drinking Habits

How much the friends of a teenager’s boyfriend or girlfriend drink can have more influence on the teen’s drinking habits than their own friends or romantic partner, a new study suggests.

The researchers found that dating someone whose friends drink a lot increases a teen’s risk of engaging in dangerous drinking themselves, including binge drinking and frequent drinking. The findings come from a national survey of 449 teen couples in the mid-1990s, HealthDay reports.

The study found a teenager is more than twice as likely to binge drink if his or her partner’s friends are heavy drinkers, compared with teens whose own friends or partner drink heavily.

The research is published in the American Sociological Review. “The friends of a partner are likely to be very different from the adolescent and his or her friends and they might also be, at least a little, different from the partner,” lead author Derek Kreager said in a news release. “Adolescents are motivated to be more like their partner’s friends in an effort to strengthen their relationship with their partner.”

He noted dating someone whose friends don’t drink can discourage a teen from drinking.

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