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Do You Have to Ditch Your Friends to Beat Alcoholism?

friends alcohol drinking peer pressure

Most people who drink in the United States consider themselves "social drinkers." That means they only drink in the company of other people, and usually in social situations like parties or get-togethers. Friends who drink, however, can actually be a risk factor for overconsumption of alcohol. New research published this month in Addiction found that the more drinking buddies are around you, the more you tend to drink.

drinking peer pressure social drinker alcoholiismPeople Drink More In Larger Crowds

The study published in Addiction was conducted in Switzerland. It included nearly 200 men and women in their mid-20s as test subjects. The study required them to fill out a questionnaire on their smartphones every hour from 8 p.m. to midnight for five weeks. The questionnaires focused on data points like how many drinks they consumed, and how many people they were with.

This in-the-moment approach is particularly significant, because most studies in the past relied on memory. As you can imagine, asking somebody how many drinks they consumed the night before probably didn’t lead to reliable data. The other option for older studies was to study drinking in laboratory conditions, which were unrealistic compared to real-world conditions. A survey like this was able to collect the data straight from participants themselves, and in real-world conditions.

The Results Of The Drinking Study

For both men and women, subjects drank more when they were surrounded by more people. Both sexes also drank faster as the evening continued on. Men differed from women by drinking more at the beginning of the evening, as well as being more likely to accept an offered drink.

What this research points to is how peer pressure can contribute to a drinking problem. The temptation to begin drinking can build as more people enter the room. If you're committed to recovery from alcoholism, it's probably best to avoid large groups of people who were drinking.

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