Why do people start drinking alcohol? Top 10 reasons

Many people start to drink at an early age. But what factors may predict early drinking and why do people start drinking alcohol in the first place? More here.

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Why do people drink?

People drink alcohol for many reasons. But why do they start drinking at all? Here we examine the top 10 reasons why people start drinking, and ask that you leave your own reasons or responses below. If you think that you might have a problem with drinking, check out our alcoholism and drinking problem evaluation questions so that you can gauge what is normal.

People start drinking alcohol …

1. For the effect

Many people drink alcohol for the effect that alcohol has on the central nervous system. It is both a depressant and a stimulant, and drinking can result in feelings of euphoria, disorientation or a pleasurable release of tension.

2. Out of curiosity

People may drink simply to experiment with alcohol and judge whether or not drinking is for them.

3. As a reaction to the social environment

We’ve all probably experienced some type of peer pressure in our lives. In fact, almost everyone wants to fit in. Many people try alcohol when they are in a social setting where everyone else is drinking in order to feel accepted and part of the environment.

4. Because they see it modeled by others

Environmental factors, such as the influence of parents or older people, play a role in initial alcohol use. For example, parents who drink more and who view drinking favorably may have children who do the same.

5. As part of normal developmental transitions

Adolescents who are in the process of puberty (sexual maturation) and who experience more independence and freedom may drink alcohol as part of the dramatic physical, emotional and social change of adolescence. In other words, drinking is a part of self-exploration. Likewise, young people in college or university may drink alcohol during this time transition to adulthood in order to explore their own values and beliefs about alcohol.

6. To relieve stress

Some new drinkers may use alcohol as a way to escape or cope with problems. Alcohol may temporarily relieve stress and focus attention elsewhere, but the problems remain well after you stop drinking.

7. As a result of personality characteristics

People who start drinking early often share similar personality characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • aggressiveness
  • anxiousness
  • depressed
  • difficulty avoiding harm or harmful situations
  • dis-inhibition
  • disruptivity
  • hyperactivity
  • rebelliousness
  • thrill seeker
  • withdrawn

8. Because it is culturally normalized

Today alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted through TV, film, radio, ads, and the Internet. This normalization makes alcohol use socially acceptable and normal, especially in countries or places where drinking is a part of life, like Ireland.  Why do the Irish drink so much?  This culture, for example, has drinking ingrained into the masses.

9. Because they expect a good experience

People who expect drinking to be a pleasurable experience are more likely to drink than people who do not. So, the expectation that alcohol will be fun and enjoyable may actually cause a person to start drinking.

10. Because it is accessible

Alcohol is pretty easy to get, even for teens. Family and friends are the primary sources of alcohol for kids who drink, whether knowingly or unwillingly. Local alcohol retailers may also accept fake IDs for underage drinkers. So relatively speaking and in comparison with other illicit activities, alcohol is accessible to most anyone.

Reference sources: NIAAA underage drinking Alcohol Alert
Why children start drinking
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Well,for me alkohol is the best friend if you know how to used properly for good thin for you.For example, when you feel cool in your body in winter night you can drink alkohol so ,you can sleep well.

  2. Every drinker is a holic, who says otherwise, lies, not just to people
    around them, but to themselves as well,because they fear the truth
    and saying something what isn’t true,makes them feel better about themselves
    and thus; avoid the problem.

    Its the same thing with every single addiction, addicted person.

    Have you ever heard the most used explanation; ” but i don’t have a problem with alcohol,
    i only drink once a week ” truth = gets wasted every weekend

  3. I drink alcohol too take away the pain and hurt but sometimes it does not work at all when the alcohol goes away problems are seal there always

    1. Hi Shante. Call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your individual needs.

  4. Usually people drink to escape their day to day lives adn problems especially the increasing stress in their lives and demanding lives of today. This is a problem of today and tomorrow because as the stress increase so will the problems and the drinking. Lets all hope for a alcohol abuse free society.

    Amen to that

  5. i think people drink because they want to escape there emotions and problems_im 13 btw so i could be wrong

  6. I don’t think anyone grows up thinking, I want to be an alcoholic some day. It happens very slowly, one disappointment after another and then another, and so on.

    Alcohol is a conduit to the soul and while it is many things to many people, in the end, just like gambling, the house always wins.

    In all honesty, I don’t know what society might look like without drugs and alcohol. Together these things are what make the wheels turn just like sex, food, and any other enticement you can think of to add to the list.

    Are these things bad, or are the results of our self indulgence what we fear the most? Even King Solomon said it is good to “eat, drink, and be merry”. So, I must conclude that the thing is not bad unless the people make it bad.

  7. It’s definitely the culture and the ease of getting it.
    Look at the UK….every 3rd tv ad is for drink…their soaps are full of their favourite characters sat in the pub every night drinking away.
    Go to any social situation in the uk and listen to the converstation about drinking. It’s accepted to be a a near alcoholic. Men/women of any age.
    Go to any city center on a weekend night and see how it is normal to see men/women of all ages get wasted.
    Go to the supermarkets and see the trollies full of drink. Many old people drink excessively in private.
    They created the problem in UK and they’ll eventually have to try and stop it. It’s a ticking time bomb.
    They go on an on about the dangers of smoklng, obesity…yet the alcohol industry is allowed to push on no questions asked. Probably because the politicians have shares in those companies. It’s a travesty. But 99% of people are here to go with the flow, not to see what is really behind the curtain.

  8. 1 reason is cultural. As we see from country to country the drinking habits wary a lot. Many places where drinking alcohol is a part of the day to day life, like drinking wine for dinner in Italy, we see less of the problems a country like England have. Were they do not have a healthy relationship to alcohol and get pissed out of their minds every weekend(young adults).

    Alcohol is not going anywhere. And if i will refuse my kids to try when the time comes. They will lie and try anyways. Then they may end up with an unhealthy relationship to alcohol, ultimately getting a drinking problem(May get).

    I’m in my thirties and now i drink for two reasons.
    1. To lower my inhibitions, resulting in being more relaxed and open.
    2. Taste. I like the taste of beer so most of the time at home i drink non/low alcoholic varients.

    1. Hi Souna. Some of the reasons why people start drinking are exactly those that you numbered. But, there are also a lot of other reasons…it’s different for everyone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

  9. Hi Bhret. Alcohol and drinking can be a way to try to deal with some tough life problems when you are young. It’s kind of like medication. Are you in a difficult family or personal situation? If we learn a little more about what’s going on, we can try to refer you to someone who can help. Even at 11, you are not alone!!!

  10. Bradley is correct. It is hard to see reality without some sort of political or social filter. Alcohol removes this filter so we can finally be free. What good is free speech, when you still get in trouble depending on what you say? What good is finding love when the lucky ones in this shitty economy seem to have no issues? What good is religion when even the most dedicated can lose everything?

  11. The real reason why people drink alcohol is because their egos are out of control, or should I say, in control. The egos mission is to distroy you, & it uses alcohol, drugs, all mind altering substances & religion to achieve this. For a better understanding read & study “DISSOLVING the EGO, REALIZING the SELF” by Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Your life will never be the same. Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

  12. Your all wrong and right at the same time. It gives a person a sense of freedom, to say and do what they want, which is sociably unacceptable. People need to let loose, but I also get it ends badly more times then not. It’s a reality buffer. What we can do and not “allowed” to do.

    I understand all the arguments. Drinking for me..well..it opens the doorways in my mind. I see things clearly for what I perceive them to be, without the unwritten laws of society. I see through the transparency. My mind is open to all sorts of thoughts..both what is considered good and evil, which is and has always been based on what is societies flavor of the month is.

    Addiction is the result of a flawed society. Any and all addiction. None of us are where we want to be, as a direct result of those “chosen” to lead us decide what is best. Society wants to blame addicts for the less then happy living conditions of the world, when it’s actually the complete opposite. Drinking, drugs, gambling are the result of taking the hazardous short cut for a better life, all the while society dictates what the standard is.

  13. Some people drink alcoholic beverages because they enjoy it. No different than a biologist’s fascination with biology. Alcoholic beverages surpass every other drinkable liquid substance on earth in flavors, diversity, types, composition, science, and culture.

  14. 11. I miss one reason:
    Some people drink to hurt her/himself. Or mostly let the other person (mostly the person she/he is in love with) notice that ‘I’ am in pain and there is only one person to make “me” stop…

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?