3 Major Triggers You Need to Know About Underage Drinking

Written by Mariah J. Garratt || Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

The phrase “under the influence” can mean more than a state of drunkenness. We all experience a broad range of influences, including those that may potentially drive young people to pick up an alcohol habit. Here is how you can respond to your teen’s pressure points today.


Stress or Social AnxietyA recent study showed that a third of all teens struggle with stress. For those of-age, one coping strategy might be grabbing a drink after a hard day or to feel relaxed and open in a new social environment.

However, those who do so forget that after liquor’s initial emotional boost fades, the body responds in a sudden drop of serotonin levels, resulting in sad or depressed sensations.

  • Your Response: Make sure your teen knows that alcohol should not be seen as a “fix” for their stressors. Mixing stress and alcohol is likely to only aggravate the issue further. (In fact, research shows that 20% of people who deal with social anxiety also have an alcohol abuse or dependence issue.)


Peer pressure — Relationships are an important part of the teenage growing experience. Unfortunately, for many youths this healthy, human desire for closeness can make them all the more susceptible to negative peer pressures.

These influences can result from both simple observance (implicit) as well as direct experience (explicit). For example, they might watch an older sibling get drunk OR a friend may directly ask them to try drinking. Social media is another proven area of implicit peer pressure for teens.

  • Your Response: The false idea that other teens are drinking more than they actually are is one of the most dangerous ways that a teen can be silently peer pressured to drink. Know the real facts and discuss them! Empower your teen with confidence-building and resilience, so that they can stand secure when they face situations of peer pressure.


Genetics — This might come as a surprise, but research has shown that as much as 50% of a child’s likeness to find themselves drawn to alcohol can be attributed to their genetics. If you are aware of a family history with alcohol dependency or addiction, sitting down to talk with your child about alcohol needs to be all the more important.

  • Your Response: Instead of sweeping anything under the carpet, try to be as honest and straightforward as possible. Reaffirm that you want what is best for them, and allow them to ask you questions to encourage shared integrity.


Starting a conversation with your teen about each of these three triggers is important. Read TIP the Scale’s easy conversation starters and get talking today!