Recent studies have shown us that teens who participate in chorus, band, and orchestra are less likely to abuse alcohol than those who don’t. This is because learning how to sing or play an instrument, especially in a community of other teens, brings new opportunities to teens and provides them with something positive to focus on. When a teen becomes good at singing or playing an instrument, it can drastically increase their sense of self-worth and their confidence. One of the primary reasons teens experiment with drinking is that they have low self-esteem and they don’t have a great sense of self-worth.
Teens also drink because their friends are doing it, often when they are bored. If teens have something to do (like going to choir practice, performing in a concert, or practicing their instrument) they will be too busy to party. When they do celebrate, it will be with the other teens who are performing music with them, and it will be a celebration of their accomplishments. Celebrations like these can usually include adults, and they don’t need to include drinking.
There have been many examples of arts programs throughout the country helping kids and teens at risk for substance abuse. Music is particularly helpful because when a kid plays an instrument or sings to a piece of sheet music, they are using parts of their brain that may remain underdeveloped without music. Not only will they have something positive to focus on, but they will actually improve their brains.
There is a reason why music therapy is used in many rehabilitation treatment centers as a part of an addiction treatment curriculum. This is true of adults as well as teens.
It’s important, though, that you encourage your teen to get help if they are experimenting with alcohol. The sooner they get help for this important issue, the better. Here is a list of resources available to help you and your teen.