Early Teen Drinkers at Higher Risk for Alcoholism
Those who start drinking in their early teens are on a faster track towards developing alcohol dependency at some point in their lives.
Akinso: Those who start drinking in their early teens are on a faster track towards developing alcohol dependency at some point in their lives, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Ralph Hingson, Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research at NIAAA, said the study underscores the need for research to clarify how early drinking relates to the risk of lifetime alcohol problems.
Hingson: We tried in our analyses to control for factors that are known to be related both to starting to drink at a younger age and the development of dependence. So analytically, in our study we controlled for age, gender, race and ethnicity, marital status, education level, history of smoking, history of illicit drug use, family history of alcoholism, childhood antisocial behavior, and childhood depression. There may be other factors that also contribute to both starting to drink at an early age and to the development of dependence that were not included in the survey. There may be genetic factors, there may be issues of parental permissiveness, lack of rigorous enforcement of the age 21 law in the communities that young people are growing up in. All of these factors contribute to both to the development of starting to drink at a younger age and the development of dependence later on in life.
Akinso: Over 40,000 adults 18 and older, participated in the survey. According to Dr. Hingson, of those who began drinking prior to age 14, 47% developed alcohol dependence compared to 9% who waited until age 21 or older to start drinking. Dr. Hingson said he believes that analysis of the study suggests that interventions that delay drinking onset may not only reduce the acute consequences of drinking among youth, but may help reduce alcohol dependence among teens, and adults. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Ralph Hingson