Alcohol and Educational Outcomes

As we’ve seen there is a train of thought amongst senior politicians that provide good schooling and young people will avoid risky behaviours.

But this research suggests that the interaction between drinking and educational problems may be more complex than this acknowledges.

Of the key findings two stand out for me:

Drinking (and binge drinking) predict increasing levels of loneliness and greater feelings of not fitting in socially at school from year to year, suggesting that drinking is more likely to be a source of social isolation
than a means of integrating with others. This link between drinking and declining socioemotional health is a key way that drinking disrupts academic progress over the course of middle and high school.

Teenagers’ drinking is most likely to interfere with their socioemotional health when they attend schools in which peers are densely connected with one another and have low rates of drinking, suggesting that drinking is most isolating when it makes teenagers stand out from a tight crowd with few other social opportunities.

In other words drinking, particularly in isolation, appears to disrupt socioemotional health and cause school failure, and this is particularly the case in schools where there is low overall prevalence of drinking.

Read the plain language press release about the research here.

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