Alcohol is the leading cause of preventable deaths
Alcohol is the leading cause of preventable deaths REUTERS

Teenagers are more likely to copy the drinking patterns of their romantic partners' friends than those of their own friends or romantic partners, a new study shows.

So if a young man dates a young woman and her friends drink a lot, then the odds are that the young man will also begin to drink a lot, even if his own friends and girlfriend do not.

Dating someone whose friends are big drinkers is more likely to cause an adolescent to engage in dangerous drinking behaviors than are the drinking habits of the adolescent's own friends or romantic partner, lead author and Pennsylvania State University professor Derek Kreager said in a statement. This applies to both binge drinking and drinking frequency.

Researchers note that boys are more likely than girls are to be influenced by the drinking patterns of their significant others' friends.

Adolescents are motivated to be more like their partner's friends in an effort to strengthen their relationship with their partner, Kreager said.

There are several organizations that provide information about teen drinking.

For one, the Mayo Clinic advises parents to encourage healthy friendships for their teens, share facts and debunk myths about alcohol, and even discuss their own drinking habits and history.