‘Groupdrink’ may help prevent risky behavior

A study recently published in the journal Addiction found that groups of people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol together are more likely to shy away from risky behavior.

The research,conducted at the University of Kent by psychologists from the university and the University of East Anglia, measured the behaviors of students while they were at bars or a music festival nearby campus. The researchers found that out of the 101 students who participated in the study, those who were alone were more likely to engage in risky behavior than those in a group.

All of the participants were between 18 and 30 years old, and two groups were compared. One group was directly under the legal drunk-driving limit, while the other group was completely sober. In the group just under the limit, people were asked privately about a risky scenario to gauge their feelings, and then were asked about a different scenario among a group of their peers. The study was also tested in laboratory conditions using separate participants. The findings concluded that regardless of the setting, people who are intoxicated are more likely to engage in riskier behavior when they are not consulting that behavior within a group.

“We think that this is because drinkers in groups monitor one another closely, becoming more cautious when directly asked whether to take a risk,” said Tim Hopthrow, Ph.D., of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes.

That risky behavior could be engaging in drug use, endorsing violence or other criminal activities, or endangering lives by driving drunk to pick up a friend.

The researchers believe the findings can lead to forms of intervention for drinking recreationally. Recreational drinking, especially among teens, can often lead to alcoholism disease at an early age through peer pressure. According to HelpGuide.org, more than half of adolescents aged 12 to 20 in America have tried alcohol at least once. On average, boys begin drinking at age 11, and girls at 13. Talk to your children to warn them about the dangers associated with drinking and prevent the development of problem drinking.

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