Study Sheds Light on Dangers of Sampling Alcohol at an Early Age

David Vittoria, assistant vice president of the Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center at South Miami Hospital, shares his perspective on a recently published research study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Underage drinking is a significant, but often overlooked, problem in the United States. Although kids tend to drink less often than adults, they usually drink more alcohol, frequently consuming as many as five or more drinks on a single occasion, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Rates of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use also continue to rise in the U.S., with almost 6 million youth between the ages of 12 and 20 who say that they routinely binge drink and 1.7 million teens and young adults who consider themselves to be heavy drinkers; this, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

As concerning as those statistics should be to all of us, consider this: A child’s perception of the harmful effects of alcohol is the leading indicator to a potential drinking problem later in life. The more kids know about alcohol and its impact on their developing brains and bodies, the more likely they are to make healthier choices later on in life. That’s why the access we give our children to alcohol and the messages we send kids about its use – say, by offering a seemingly insignificant sip of beer or wine – can have such an impact.

Click below to access the full research study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“The Prospective Association Between Sipping Alcohol by the Sixth Grade and Later Substance Use”

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