Apparently Kids Drink Because of Peer Pressure
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Apparently Kids Drink Because of Peer Pressure


Weird Science

CBS News has released a groundbreaking article backing research that claims peer pressure, not genetics, makes teens more likely to drink. The article was written by a C. Obvious. Some teens have a gene called RASGRF-2, which releases more dopamine than normal when drinking, making them more likely to be heavy drinkers. Others have ADH1B. This gene gives them unpleasant side effects such as headaches and nausea, making them less likely to drink. This used to come in the form of a weird uncle. On top of all of this, good old-fashioned peer pressure trumps all. Whether a person has the gene that makes them more or less likely to abuse alcohol, trying to fit in or impress still makes them drink up.

Of course it took researchers in a lab at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis to figure out that despite the consequences of ADH1B, the influence of the hot girl in a high school kid’s history class has more of an effect on drinking than nature or even the law. Maybe if someone had invited those scientists to parties in high school they wouldn’t have had to research it to find this out. That or they could have watched the second act of Can’t Hardly Wait when the super nerdy William Lichter (played by Charlie Korsmo) goes into the final high school party to humiliate Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli), who tormented him the previous four years. William quickly starts to drink to fit in, gets drunk and ends up having the best night ever despite sabotaging his righteous revenge mission.

The Kids Are Alright

CBS is also reporting that alcohol abuse is an increasingly growing problem in the US. Seventy-eight percent of American teens have had alcohol by the age of 17 and 15% of those meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. Honestly, I didn’t go to one party in high school that didn’t qualify 100% of the drinkers as alcohol abusers.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2012, 855,000 teenagers from 12 to 17 had abused alcohol. According to the 2000 census, there were between 25 and 28 million teenagers living in the US. Add 10 to that because the census packets were annoying and because it’s been 14 years and we have around 40 million teens in America today (cue: “Kids in America” by The Muffs from the Clueless opening). This all means that around 2.14% of the teenage population is abusing alcohol. Is this a problem? I’m not even sure. Is it sad for those teenagers and the family around them? Of course. Does it affect our society at all? It’s hardly likely. Like will we still have a president, a version of Brad Pitt in 40 years and police officers? Yes! “Certain people in life are meant to fall by the wayside; to serve as warning signs to the rest of us”: Jeff Goldblum in Igby Goes Down.

Nature vs. Nurture

The people backing the genetic study are saying that this all proves we can find out early on who is more prone to alcohol abuse and as a result we can confront the problem before it happens. Most importantly, this can be used as a screening tool when interviewing at-risk youth. But for the rest of the population, this seems to be a finger pointing game that accuses teenagers of abusing alcohol before they’ve abused it by seeing if they have the gene that’s supposed to protect them from it? Confused me too.

If quick human evolution is creating genes that are trying to deter teenagers from drinking by making them feel sick, then if they do it I believe we should just let them feel the nasty consequences and the rest is their own path. If nature is still not getting its way and teens are abusing alcohol because of peer influence, then the kids have spoken. I just think it’s funny that it takes evolution to tell teenagers not to drink and not the billions of dollars worth of US government-funded research that gives them facts. And it still doesn’t work! CBS News, don’t quit your primetime night job. Keep up the sitcoms. I need something to do now that I don’t drink anymore.

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About Author

Carlos Herrera is a comedian, photographer and writer whose work can also be found on The Fix . He has been featured in LA Weekly and has performed at The Hollywood Improv among other places.