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Drugs & Health Blog

Teen Party Movies: Epic Adventure or Bad Hangover?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Many of the movies teens like the most have this in common: A group of young people go to parties, binge drink, get in trouble, or narrowly escape—all in the name of comedy. Hugely successful movies like the American Pie series, 2007’s Superbad, and the recent Project X all follow this formula.

And it’s not just “party movies” that highlight teen drinking. Even Harry Potter is not immune to controversy when it comes to alcohol.

Many different factors may influence teens’ decisions to drink alcohol—like whether their friends do—but a recent study [link removed] found that watching a lot of movies that feature alcohol actually doubles the chances that young teens will start drinking and increases the chances that they will move on to binge drinking as well.

On Screen vs. Reality

Most movies centered around teen partying and drinking glamorize the party scene, making it seem like the craziest, most epic stuff will happen. On screen, it becomes a memorable adventure from which you return home safely with the story of a lifetime.

Real life is different. Underage drinking, and especially binge drinking, is not glamorous or funny.

It’s about doing something stupid and embarrassing yourself in front of your friends. It’s about throwing up in someone’s car on the way home and having a massive hangover the next morning. Even worse, it’s about getting alcohol poisoning and making dangerous decisions like driving drunk.

Alcohol Featured on Purpose

Teens should always be aware of why certain things may be happening on TV or in the movies and become “media-savvy.”

The next time you see alcohol on screen, ask yourself why the movie makers put it there. Are they trying to make you laugh? Does the situation make it seem “cool” and like “everybody’s doing it”?

Does seeing actors drinking alcohol on screen make you more likely to try it? Do you feel the same way if one of the characters smokes cigarettes?

Learn some of the things you should think about when you watch TV or movies.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


What a great article and read for a teenager. And for adults alike. This is information that everybody should get educated on. The messages that our sent out to our kids in the media, movies, commercials, advertising is all aiming to promote some type of addiction for them to become a part of. This is very true especially in regards to drugs such as tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol being the number one trend of course. Instead of partying, teens should be more focused on more productive like exercising and staying healthy. As opposed to destroying the body. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

nice article

In my opinion it is not only a problem of the kids watching those movies.
Of course i agree with your statement that they should think about those things they see in movies and on tv. Many of them just start imitating their "idols" from movies.

But i think this issue is also caused by the media-producers because of theit narrow minded understanding of the way of thinking youth have which is often reduced to the typical common view on teenagers.

This leads to discrepancies between those generations and enlarges the gap between them.
So maybe those producers should pay more attetion to the real "needs" of teens in relation to media. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Please get a grip! It's a movie for gods sake! If kids binge drink then they binge drink and if they smoke then they smoke... Yes I agree that they maybe more encouraged to drink but doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to. The film writers make these stories because they are entertaining and everyone knows that they are not based on real life... Yes, kids may feel like that's how they want to live out their teenage years but who's to say that kids are going to turn into binge drinkers! Kids nowadays are binge drinkers because of their friends and following the 'crowd'. So sorry but it sounds so much like you have a small mind to think that all teenagers think about when they see these movies are getting drunk and partying... People need to have a little faith in todays society of teenagers!! Thanks :)

@... Actually, movies do influence teen behavior. Researchers have found a connection between watching movies that show teens drinking and teens actually drinking or binge drinking. The researchers took into account other factors - like friends – and found that this connection still exists.

Thanks for sharing!
I think smoking and drinking in movies DO indeed influence children to want to drink and smoke.
You see even music we listen to on the radio reminds us of partying and alcohol/drugs.
I know these songs always get me into the mood to go to a club and drink and have a boogie.
As a smoker myself I always crave a ciggie after watching a movie with strong scenes of smoke.
They know its "bad" but because they are not taught the proper way to drink as they are always doing it behind their parents' backs, causes them to binge drink as they don't know their limits.

This is a great article. There is a lot that goes on especially in television shows that influence teens, it doesn't make them drink any more or less but definietly influences how they see alcohol such as when the "cool" kids have parties and drink etc. This is another great page for alcohol and teen use that you should all check out! [commercial link removed, per guidelines]