Teen regular drinkers more likely to battle alcohol as adults

July 11, 2018 by Marion Downey, University of New South Wales
Teen regular drinkers more likely to battle alcohol as adults
Credit: Shutterstock

Adolescents who drink weekly before age 17 are two to three times more likely to binge drink, drink drive, and be dependent on alcohol in adulthood compared with peers who don't drink, a study of 9000 adolescents across Australia and New Zealand has found.

The study published in the international journal Addiction and led by researchers from UNSW Sydney followed young people from age 13 to 30 and provides some of the most robust evidence to date that early patterns of are not limited to adolescence but rather persist into adulthood and are associated with a range of alcohol related .

Frequency of drinking in adolescence was just as likely as and problem drinking (in adolescence) to predict later problems. 

Lead author of the study Dr Edmund Silins said the findings suggest that delaying drinking will have significant public benefits. As well, public health messages need to focus as much on frequency of drinking as the amount consumed, he said.

"Discouraging or delaying alcohol use in adolescence is likely to have substantial benefits in adulthood in terms of preventing harmful drinking behaviours which adversely affect health and wellbeing," said Dr Silins.

"Current public health messages tend to focus on the amount consumed, and there are fewer messages recommending less frequent drinking." 

Co-author Prof George Patton from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and lead investigator on the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study said: "The study further debunks the myth that teen experimentation with alcohol promotes ; instead, it sets a young person up for later-life problem drinking."

A further co-author, Associate Professor Joe Boden from the Christchurch Health and Development Study, said the study provides robust evidence for policymakers, health promoters, and parents.

"The findings suggest that delaying when teens start drinking regularly could have significant benefits to individuals, families and society as a whole," said Associate Professor Boden. "Public health messages should focus on curbing frequency of drinking as well as the amounts consumed."

A surprising finding of the study was that there were no direct associations between adolescent drinking and negative psycho-social outcomes such as sexual risk-taking, early parenthood and mental health problems. 

Explore further: Adolescent binge drinking disrupts mouse memory in adulthood

More information: Edmund Silins et al. Adverse adult consequences of different alcohol use patterns in adolescence: an integrative analysis of data to age 30 years from four Australasian cohorts, Addiction (2018). DOI: 10.1111/add.14263

Related Stories

Adolescent binge drinking disrupts mouse memory in adulthood

June 18, 2018
Excessive drinking during adolescence may interfere with the activity of brain cells needed for sustaining short term memory, according to new research in adolescent male mice published in JNeurosci. The study could help ...

Binge drinking rampant among Americans

March 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—Americans are on a binge drinking binge.

Should parents give their children alcohol?

March 10, 2017
Children and teens who are given alcohol by their parents are twice as likely to be drinking full serves of alcohol by age 15 or 16, but are much less likely to binge drink, a UNSW study shows.

Drug could block harmful impact of teen binge drinking, researchers report

November 2, 2017
Alcohol-fueled "schoolies" celebrations marking the end of high school for many Australian students have an unexpected impact: their binge-drinking behaviour as teenagers can lead to problems with alcohol and other drug dependence ...

Study shows letting kids taste alcohol is a risky behavior

February 20, 2018
Parents who allow their young children to occasionally sip and taste alcohol may be contributing to an increased risk for alcohol use and related problems when those kids reach late adolescence, according to a new study by ...

Last call for parents who supply teens with booze

July 5, 2017
Parents supplying their teens with alcohol are not only fuelling underage drinking but are increasing the risk that their children and their children's friends will drink heavily.

Recommended for you

Gaming or gambling? Online transactions blur boundaries

June 28, 2018
In-game purchasing systems, such as 'loot boxes', in popular online games resemble gambling and may pose financial risks for vulnerable players, according to gambling psychology researchers at the University of Adelaide.

Exercise helps treat addiction by altering brain's dopamine system

May 28, 2018
New research by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions has identified a key mechanism in how aerobic exercise can help impact the brain in ways that may support treatment—and even prevention strategies—for ...

Warning labels on alcohol containers highly deficient, new research shows

May 21, 2018
Current health warning labels on alcohol beverage containers in New Zealand are highly deficient, new research from the University of Otago, Wellington shows.

Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the U.K.'s alcohol consumption

May 14, 2018
New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.

Anti-alcoholism drug shows promise in animal models

May 3, 2018
Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. ...

FDA-approved drugs to treat diabetes and obesity may reduce cocaine relapse and help addicted people break the habit

April 28, 2018
Cocaine and other drugs of abuse hijack the natural reward circuits in the brain. In part, that's why it's so hard to quit using these substances. Moreover, relapse rates hover between 40 and 60 percent, similar to rates ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.