April 28, 2011

Underage Supervised Drinking Still Leads To Problems

In some households, allowing a teen to have supervised wine or beer with the family is a safe way to introduce alcohol to the young teen in hopes of taking away the thrill of drinking in possibly dangerous ways.

New research suggests, however, that it sends mixed signals to the teens that can result in them being more likely to over-indulge in alcohol as they enter their developing years, reports The Telegraph.

A study of more than 1,900 young teens, 12-13 years old, were more likely to have experienced alcohol-related consequences, such as getting into fights, not being able to stop drinking, or having blackouts - two years later than those whose parents had a zero-tolerance strategy.

The joint US/Australian study found that almost twice as many Australian teenagers, 67 percent, had indulged in alcohol in the presence of an adult, as opposed to their American counterparts at only 35 percent. This reflects general attitudes towards underage drinking in the respective countries.

The following year, 36 percent of the Australians had experienced alcohol-related consequences compared to only 21 percent of the Americans in the study. While cultural differences alone might account for the difference, the results also found that teens who had been allowed to drink while supervised were more likely to have negative experiences regardless of which country they were from.

The results are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (JSAD) and was conducted by the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia, and the Social Development Research Group in Seattle, Washington.

In the UK and Australia one can buy an alcoholic drink in a pub or at the age of 18, in the US the minimum age is 21.

A separate Dutch study of 500 adolescents, 12 - 15 years of age, also published in the JSAD, found the determining factor for teenage drinking habits was the amount of alcohol available at home, and not how much parents drank.

Dr. Barbara McMorris, of Minnesota University, who led the first study, said: "Both studies show that parents matter. Despite the fact that peers and friends become important influences as adolescents get older, parents still have a big impact."

"Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies. Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. Kids need black and white messages early on. Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase," she concluded.


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