How does a social environment or cultural environment influence teen drinking?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,994
    Social Worker Judith Welles Cousins discusses how a social environment or cultural environment influences teen drinking.

    Host: How does a social environment or cultural environment influence teen drinking?

    Judith Welles Cousins: Social environment, cultural environment, family environment affects teen's drinking and drug use in this respect that we all live in the culture of our families, we all live in a culture of our peer group, we all live in the larger culture and so what we have to look at when we think about that is what is number one? What is being modeled in the culture, what is being modeled in the family? So that's one way that culture and society influences teenage use is by what teenagers see being done by adults in society. The other is, another is what are the expectations of what kids will do, what teenagers will do in our society and in our culture, what is the expectation? The more of an expectation there is that the more positive expectation there is that teenagers will use, that it's okay use, that it's exciting to use and that kind of thing, then that also has an influence and that has a very significant influence on what teens do.

    There is another aspect of that as well and it's a little bit on the opposite side. In a number of cultures, for example on the Indian culture, the American-Indian culture and let me take Paodi as an example because in some of the American-Indian cultures and some of the tribes it's - Paodi is used as a religious, what I want to say, a religious factor and they use it for religious reasons and it's very ritualized and it's very structured and it's used only for specific purposes. In those cultures, when that's the case, when alcohol or paodi in the case or other kinds of drugs are used in a very ritualized, perhaps religious setting or very special family setting like for example, holiday on teenagers or young kids maybe using, maybe having a half glass of wine or wine that's stirred a little bit with water because this is a Christmas celebration or a birthday celebration. In those instances, what's modeled is a very ritualized, a very structured, a very adult, in a sense, controlled use of the alcohol or drug and in that sense, the influences one, this is how we do this in our family. This is how we do this in society and in those cases, teenagers are less likely to use in a negative way.