Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Emotion Management Can Decrease Teen Alcohol Abuse

Personality issues can be hugely problematic for teenagers, especially when they contribute to social awkwardness or an inability to get emotional and other needs met at home and at school. A new study looked into the efficacy of a high school program that offered teens the tools to manage problematic personality issues with the goal of helping them avoid drug and alcohol abuse. According to the results published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the programs were very successful.

Dr. Patricia Conrod of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry is one of the authors of the study. She said, “Two factors determine problem drinking: personality and peer pressure. Teaching young people how to better manage their personality traits or vulnerabilities helps them make the right decisions in given situations, whether it is a matter of overcoming their fears, managing thoughts that make them very emotional, controlling their compulsions, analyzing objectively the intentions of others or improving their self-perception.”

The Study

Two groups of teens took part in the study. One group was given an alcohol intervention program alone and the other was given a personality-based intervention program. The drinking habits of both were watched after the treatment program. After two years, those participants found to be at high risk for alcohol abuse in the personality intervention program were at far less risk of alcohol-related issues compared to the high-risk participants who underwent the alcohol intevention program. Those who were a part of the personality-based intervention were:

  • 29 percent less likely to drink alcohol
  • 43 percent less likely to binge drink
  • 29 percent less likely to develop a problem with drinking

Personality and Peer Pressure

Teens who have issues with impulse control, risk-taking behaviors, high anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness are considered “high risk” for developing alcohol abuse issues in the future. When that is coupled with having friends who abuse alcohol, the chances of developing a teen alcohol abuse program double. Learning how to manage high-risk personality traits is one step toward limiting risk for the development of alcohol abuse during the teen years, but so too is parental involvement that identifies friendships that may be triggering for their teen.

If your son is drinking, address his first uses of alcohol with a firm anti-drinking stance. If you need assistance in helping your child to stop drinking, contact us at Muir Wood today.