Binge Drinking Linked to Alcohol Brands in Song Lyrics

Young People Affected By What They Hear, Read

Pensive Teenage Girl
Music can influence teen choices. © Getty Images

Research has shown that parents are one of the greatest influences on the choices children make, but what your child reads, watches and listens to can be influential also, especially when it comes to whether they decide to drink or abuse substances.

There have been several studies that show parents are a big factor in how teens think about substance abuse in general and that parenting style can be an influence on whether children end up being binge drinkers while they are still young.

Peer Pressure a Factor

Of course, there is also research showing that children, especially girls, are influenced by peers who drink and use drugs, as well as other studies that found that teens are particularly prone to drink and smoke if their siblings are doing it.

So, family and peers play a huge role in how young people make up their minds about drinking and substance abuse, but there are other factors in the lives of adolescents that can also influence their choices.

Advertising Plays a Role

There have been many studies that demonstrate how alcohol advertising in magazines, on the radio and on television can affect teen use of alcohol and how some alcohol advertising seems to be particularly targeted at teens and young people.

Researchers have found that underage drinkers see more alcohol ads than adults do, and that those advertisements influence which brand names of alcohol that underage drinkers prefer.

Alcohol Brands in Music

There is a University of Pittsburgh study that found that there is an association to music references to alcohol by brand name, and whether or not teenagers and young adults have ever binged on alcohol. The survey of 2,500 subjects aged 15 to 23 found that alcohol-brand references in music can be a factor associated with the drinking habits of adolescents and young adults.

The Pittsburgh study found that survey participants who could remember the specific alcohol brand names mentioned in popular songs were more than twice as likely to have consumed a "complete alcoholic drink."

Even after the researchers adjusted the findings for factors including age, socioeconomic status and alcohol use by parents and friends, those who could recall specific alcohol brand names in songs were much more likely to have ever been binge drinkers.

How Important Is It?

How big an influence can music play in the lives of teens? The Pittsburgh researchers estimated that each year "the average adolescent is exposed to about 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music."

A previous study found that every third song that adolescents listen to contain references to some form of substance abuse, usually in a positive way, much more so if they are listening to rap music.

Drug References in Music

Project Know has published a report called "Drug Slang in Hip Hop," which include charts showing how often different drug terms are mentioned in rap music.

The number of drug references far "outpaces that of even its wildest pop-culture predecessors" of the 1960s and 1970s, the group said.

Therefore, parents who are concerned about their teens becoming binge drinkers at an early age, may want to pay more attention to what their children are reading, watching and listening to.

Sources:Bahr, S.J., et al. "Parenting Style, Religiosity, Peers, and Adolescent Heavy Drinking." Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. July 2010.

Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth "Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising in National Magazines, 2001-2008." August 2010

Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth "Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising on Television, 2001-2009. December 2010.

King, C. et al. "Adolescent Exposure to Alcohol Advertising in Magazines: An Evaluation of Advertising Placement in Relation to Underage Youth Readership." Journal of Adolescent Health. December 2009.

Primack, BA, et al. "Receptivity to and Recall of Alcohol Brand Appearances in U.S. Popular Music and Alcohol-Related Behaviors." Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 9 April 2014

Siegel, M. et al. "Brand-Specific Consumption of Alcohol Among Underage Youth in the United States," Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 7 February 2013.

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