Posted by Steps to Recovery on February 4, 2013

I will never forget that day, we were hanging around and she broke out a bottle of vodka from her parent’s cabinet and mixed up a drink with some 7-Up. I was so shocked, I couldn’t believe she was getting into her parent’s liquor, I would never have the guts….And then she offered me the drink and told me her parents wouldn’t be home until that night.

After that, it just seemed so fun to me. And easy. My parents didn’t lock up the liquor either, and my stepdad worked days and my mom worked nights, which meant that she slept while he was at work. So that summer, after having my first drink with my best friend, I started drinking.

It’s true that best friends influence when kids start drinking. She also gave me my first hit of pot, and my first line of meth. And I thought it was all just fun. I never had a friend like her, we were inseparable, and I would have done anything to keep it that way. So we partied all the time. And now research is proving, even more, how much friends influence each other in drinking and drug use.

Chances are the only thing you remember about your first swig of alcohol is how bad the stuff tasted. What you didn’t know is the person who gave you that first drink and when you had it says a lot about your predisposition to imbibe later in life.

A national study by a University of Iowa-led team has found that adolescents who get their first drink from a friend are more likely to drink sooner in life, which past studies show makes them more prone to abusing alcohol when they get older. The finding is designed to help specialists predict when adolescents are likely to first consume alcohol, with the aim of heading off problem drinking at the pass.

“When you start drinking, even with kids who come from alcoholic families, they don’t get their first drinks from their family,” says Samuel Kuperman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the UI. “They get their first drinks from their friends. They have to be able to get it. If they have friends who have alcohol, then it’s easier for them to have that first drink.”

The basis for the study, published this month in the journal Pediatrics, is compelling: One-third of eighth graders in the United States report they’ve tried alcohol, according to a 2011 study of 20,000 teenagers conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institutes of Health. By 10th grade, more than half say they’ve had a first drink, and that percentage shoots to 70 percent by their senior year.

“There’s something driving kids to drink,” explains Kuperman, corresponding author on the paper. “Maybe it’s the coolness factor or some mystique about it. So, we’re trying to educate kids about the risks associated with drinking and give them alternatives.”

Written by: Richard C. Lewis

Did you have your first drink with your best friend? How did that shape your future alcohol addiction?

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