Muir Wood therapist, David Laing
Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services is a Joint Commission-accredited mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider located in Petaluma, California. We provide integrated evidence-based care including psychiatry, psychotherapy, experiential therapy, wellness services, and milieu therapy for adolescents and teens, and their family members.

Adolescent Dating Linked to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Romance can be just as inciting to drug use and abuse among preteens and young teens as it is for adults, according to a new study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence. The study found that kids in middle school who dated and had relationships were twice as likely to use alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco as compared to the peers who did not date.

Additionally, the study found that junior high daters were much more likely to have a hard time academically and four times more likely to drop out of school altogether. These results were found over a seven-year period in which more than 600 participating students were monitored starting in sixth grade. Participants filled out an annual survey on their:

  • Dating status
  • Academic progress
  • Drug use
  • Other behaviors and choices

Pamela Orpinas was the author of the study. In a news release, she made it plain that “dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.”

Is Romance in General a Bad Idea for Young Boys?

There are two possible reasons why the study found the above results: (1) the distraction of romance, and (2) the lengths that a young boy will go to in order to impress a possible girlfriend. If she’ll think he’s more interesting, fun or cool, is he more likely to drink or get high or smoke a cigarette? If he’s on a group date, will he be more inclined to indulge in these activities if the other boys are doing so in an effort to impress their dates—or worse, trying to steal his date’s attentions? Men of every age are inclined to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t or take unnecessary risk in an effort to impress a woman. It’s not surprising to learn that young boys in their initial dating experiences have the potential to lose ground on other fronts when romance becomes an issue.

Addressing the ‘Why’ of Your Son’s Drug Abuse

If you feel that a young lady who’s captured the attention of your son is encouraging him to get high or drink, then just like any other bad influence in his life, you as the caregiver or parent have every right to step in and make some changes on his behalf. There is no benefit to allowing your son the opportunity to make gravely dangerous mistakes in an effort to look “cool” for a girl.

If encouraging your son to look for the right girl instead of the girl who encourages him to get in trouble doesn’t help him to stop drinking and using drugs in a romantic context and cutting off date privileges is even less effective, you can find the help you need to get your son back on track when you contact us at Muir Wood. Download the admissions packet, or contact our call center now for more information.