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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Alcohol and Teens

There are many reasons to encourage your children to avoid alcohol during their adolescence, but a new study is very sobering. It seems, like sex, the longer you delay the onset of drinking alcohol, the less risk a person will experience over a lifetime. A recent study by Dr. Hingson at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that becoming an alcoholic during adolescence contributes to more severe levels of alcoholism, multiple dependencies, and less chance that the alcoholic will seek help.

Interviews with 4,778 people who had been alcoholics at some time in their lives suggested that 15% become dependent before the age of 18 and 47% were dependent by age 21. For parents this means talk to your children and if they start drinking – get help! For clinicians, it suggests that screening young teens for drinking is imperative.

Ralph W. Hingson, Timothy Heeren, and Michael R. Winter. (2006) Age of Alcohol-Dependence Onset: Associations With Severity of Dependence and Seeking Treatment. Pediatrics, 118: e755-e763.

Photo credit: karanj
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.