Perception of Alcohol
Perceived Risk: A person’s expressed beliefs regarding the “Risk of Harm” in using a given drug is strongly linked to their measured pattern of use. Decades of thorough research has found this single aspect to be one of the foremost inhibiting factors of drug use. When it comes to confronting underage drinking, this is where much of the battle is being lost.
In 2008, fully 39% of high school seniors believed there to be no great risk in a teenager drinking heavy -4 to 5 drinks- on a daily basis. Only 46% believe there to be great risk in binge drinking every weekend. These beliefs fly in the face of teen mortality and emergency room figures (found on the “Underage Drinking” and “Impact of Alcohol” pages). The real risks of drinking are not reflected in the individual beliefs expressed by students.(1)
Social Norms: Not surprisingly, a similar divide is found in the social norms currently expressed by high school students. This is measured by asking an individual respondent how his or her friends would view certain drinking practices. In spite of the actual risk demonstrated by statistics, only 62% of 12th graders report that they would expect disapproval from their friends if they drank heavily on the weekends. 25% say that their friends would not disapprove of them drinking one or two beers nearly every day. 15% say that their friends wouldn’t even disapprove of them drinking heavily -4 to 5 drinks- nearly every day. (1)
Parents: Studies on parental views find that their expressions are much more conservative than those expressed by their teens. Unfortunately, it was found that older teen’s individual views corresponded much more closely to those of their peers, than to those of their parents.
1. MTF 2008
2. CASA 2009