Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

TV Alcohol Ads May Increase Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents

When it was determined that cigarette ads were aimed at persuading teens to smoke, the industry was forced to make significant changes in the interest of protecting young Americans from developing a deadly addiction to tobacco. Now, studies are showing that alcohol ads are not only aimed at teenagers and young adults but that they are extremely effective in making alcoholic drinking look attractive to this audience.

It’s a problem that has many concerned and for good reason. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, demonstrated that as a result of these advertisements, teens are more likely to:

  • Drink before age 21
  • Drink large amounts of alcohol
  • Drink and drive
  • Develop a lifelong issue with alcohol abuse and addiction

Increased Exposure to Ads = Increased Teen Drinking

HealthDay reports that teens may begin drinking as early as 7th grade as a result of beer and liquor ads. The study included about 4,000 7th graders. Participants were asked to talk about their opinion of alcohol, their use of alcoholic beverages, and their exposure to advertisements for alcohol. It was found that the teens who were exposed to alcohol ads more often were more likely to begin drinking by the time they were in 10th grade. Drinking students were more likely to have behavior issues, such as getting into fights at school, or experience academic problems as compared to non-drinking peers, according to the study’s authors.

Jerry Grenard was the lead researcher of the study. He told HealthDay, “This study provides evidence that exposure to alcohol advertising in seventh grade and liking those alcohol advertisements on television [are] associated with higher levels of drinking in the eighth and ninth grades. Parents and schools should teach children about the design of persuasive messages in the media to help them avoid undue influence by the media on their behaviors.”

Your Opinion Matters

Limiting your son’s exposure to television and thus to alcohol ads is a step in the right direction, as is teaching your child about marketing principles and how companies sell products, but it’s been demonstrated through numerous teen surveys that parental opinion—and behavior—when it comes to drug and alcohol use is a huge part of their decision-making process. Parents are encouraged to make it clear to their child that alcohol and drug use is not a safe or acceptable choice and to set boundaries for teens. Should house rules be broken, follow through on consequences and avoid justifying repeat bad choices.

If your son is unable to stop drinking or abusing drugs, it’s not an issue to ignore. Early treatment can help them to avoid the problems associated with teen drug abuse and aid them in building a solid foundation for their future. Contact us at Muir Wood today, or download an application packet to learn more about how we can help.