Adult Drinkers May Experience "Peter Pan Syndrome"

By Fionna Agomuoh 04/17/12

People who drink excessively into their 30s feel less mature than their peers, a study finds.

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People who feel perpetually suspended in childhood may want to cut back on the booze, according to a study conducted at the University of Missouri. The research shows that those who engage in excessive drinking feel immature, and when they hit 30 they might wonder why their peers have surpassed them in life. The study concludes that heavier drinking is more culturally acceptable among younger adults and isn't widely perceived as immature. "Young adults are out at the bars with their friends and drinking is a bonding experience. They also view blacking out, vomiting and drunk driving as more acceptable because peers are behaving similarly,” says Rachel Winograd, a doctoral student in psychology at MU. But as these youths leave their 20s and begin to witness their peers settling down, those who continue to excessively drink may feel like "Peter Pans" in their social circles, having never grown up. The study is based on research on teen alcohol dependency, which suggests that excessive drinking in the adolescent years also correlates with feelings of immaturity. "There seems to be a window of time in the early to mid-20s when drinking is not associated with immaturity," she observes. "Before and after that window, excessive alcohol use is associated with a lower self-reporting of maturity, according to our results and previous studies."

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Fionna Agomuoh is a tech writer and product reviewer, as well as the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fionna previously worked at several media companies, including Newsweek Media Group and Business Insider. Find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.