The Younger the Age of First Drink, the Higher the Odds for Problem Drinking Later

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Younger the Age of First Drink, the Higher the Odds for Problem Drinking Later

*The following is excerpted from an online article from U.S. News and World Report.

Both drinking and getting drunk at an early age are key risk factors for alcohol abuse by high school students, a new study suggests.

For the study, published online in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the researchers examined the risk associated with the age that high school students started drinking as well as the time that elapsed between their first drink and the first time they got drunk. The study involved 295 high school students, 163 females and 132 males. Most of the students were white and their average age was 16.

The study revealed that starting to drink at an early age coupled with quickly progressing to heavy drinking was associated with alcohol abuse among high school students. However, the researchers did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Based on their findings, the researchers suggested that a teenager who first drank alcohol at age 14 and then got drunk for the first time at age 15 would be a heavier drinker than a teen who started drinking at 14 but didn't get drunk until the age of 18.

"Our research suggests that teenagers who have their first drink at an early age drink more heavily, on average, than those who start drinking later on. Our work also suggests that how quickly teenagers move from having their first drink to getting drunk for the first time is an important piece of the puzzle," study corresponding author Meghan Morean, an assistant psychology professor at Oberlin College in Ohio and an adjunct assistant psychiatry professor at Yale School of Medicine, said in a news release.

Source: U.S. News & World Report