This was in the Daily Mail recently and wanted to share it here.
Parents who allow their young teenagers to drink alcohol in the hope it will teach them responsible drinking habits later on in life may be doing the opposite.
A study has found teenagers whose parents supply alcohol in early adolescence are three times more likely to drink full serves of alcohol at age 16, compared to those who wait. The study’s chief investigator, Professor Richard Mattick, said parents are confused about the best way to moderate their children’s drinking. But he says the study shows supplying booze doesn’t work, with the biggest predictor for drinking alcohol in year 10 being early parental supply through school years 7 to 9. ‘Parents are the major supplier of alcohol to the under 18s,’ Professor Mattick said. ‘Many of these do so with the best of intentions, to introduce alcohol in a safe, supervised environment, with the aim of moderating a child’s drinking.’
Professor Mattick said the findings of the study had not been anticipated by researchers and recommend parents to be aware of the risks associated with supplying alcohol to their children.
Professor Mattick said adolescent drinking was linked to later harms in early adulthood including injury, sexually transmitted diseases and adult alcohol dependence, with changes in brain function reported by US researchers. About one in six children in the study reported being given alcohol by their parents at age 12 and 13. More than one-third of the study’s sample were supplied with alcohol by their parents at age 15 and 16. ‘The results also indicate that those children who are given alcohol by their parents may be more likely to seek out alcohol from a variety of other sources,’ said Dr Monika Wadolowski, who recently completed a PhD on aspects of the research.
The study conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, followed nearly 2,000 parent and child pairs over four years and aimed to provide guidance to parents on how best to moderate their children’s drinking. Australian Drug Foundation spokesman Geoff Munro told ABC that other studies have shown young people who start drinking before 18 can develop physical, emotional and cognitive problems.
Mr Munro recommends young teenagers avoid ‘alcohol for as long as possible’.
There is also a really interesting video of a panel discussion linked from The Daily Mail piece where Drinkaware and the Guardian interview a group of young people that is well worth a watch if you want to see it from their perspective.
Some of the comments under the article are interesting in that they point to Europe and how it has not impacted on the European young people and their relationship with alcohol. I would argue that maybe the parents who give their children alcohol earlier on in adolescence within the UK are themselves regular drinkers and maybe this has more to do with role modeling social behaviour. If it is normal for your parents to drink regularly and heavily this will seem normal to you as that young person.
It probably goes without saying that I will not be encouraging my children to drink before they are 18 because of what I’ve discovered through my research for this blog about alcohol and changes to brain functioning it causes. It was primarily discussed in the ‘chunking and addiction formation in adolescents post here.
What do you think?