Recent research has found that teens who drink alone are at a higher risk for adverse effects compared to those who drink socially. This research found those teens who drink alone tend to drink higher quantities of alcohol. It seems as though alcohol becomes a negative coping mechanism for these teens. Comparatively, teens who only drink in a social setting tend to have the reasoning of socializing versus coping.
Teens who are drinking as a coping mechanism are in a vulnerable state and will often drink more to cope with these feelings, feelings such as rejection, being lonely, anxiety, or depression. Being in a vulnerable state leads to a decrease in cognitive functioning and ultimately can lead to the increase in drinking.
The study done by Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center found that students who reported drinking alone between the ages of 12-18 were more likely to be dependent on alcohol when resurveyed at the age of 25. This is indicative that early solitary drinking is a huge link to alcohol dependency.
So, what does this show? Given that the solitary drinking tends to come through as a maladaptive coping skill, it shows that there are most likely co-occurring disorders. By opening up conversation and destigmatizing mental health, it would likely help to decrease this solitary drinking, ultimately decreasing dependence.
Having an open line of communication can help create positive coping skills. Further, by opening the line of communication, it helps teens feel less lonely, as they will have other people to turn to in a time of need. Encouraging positive coping skills such as reading, writing, drawing, talk therapy, and exercise can significantly help the mental health of a teen.
Ultimately, drinking alone from an early age is linked to a dependence on alcohol late in life. Whether this link is due to earlier onset of drinking, higher frequency of drinking, or utilizing alcohol as a coping skill is relatively unknown but providing teens with a way to communicate their underlying reasoning for drinking can reduce the negative effects this drug has on the young brain, by decreasing the amount that a teen drinks.