Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drinking Alcohol Before 15 Years Of Age Is Risky For Later Alcohol Problems

Date:
September 30, 2008
Source:
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Summary:
Researchers have known that age of first drink (AFD) is associated with the later development of alcohol-use disorders (AUDs). New findings show that an early AFD, before the age of 15, is especially risky for later AUDs. Experts recommend delaying the onset of drinking behavior as late as possible, until 18 or older.

It may seem like a minor point, but it matters when someone takes their first drink of alcohol relative to later development of alcohol problems. A new study of the relationship between age at first drink (AFD) and the risk of developing alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) during adulthood has found that the risk is greatest when AFD occurs before the age of 15.

Related Articles


Results will be published in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Some early drinkers become alcohol dependent while still in their teens, a time when those who have not yet started drinking are not even at risk of becoming dependent." explained Deborah A. Dawson, staff scientist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and corresponding author for the study. "By looking at adult-onset dependence, we can see for the first time that the association between early AFD and increased AUD risk … is not time limited, but rather persists into adulthood."

"In addition," said Howard B. Moss, associate director for Clinical and Translational Research at NIAAA, "this study controls for a variety of individual risk factors that could contribute to both early drinking behavior and later alcohol problems."

Researchers analyzed data from a three-year longitudinal study of U.S. drinkers 18 years of age and older at baseline (n=22,316). They examined associations between three groups of AFD – younger than 15, between 15 and 17, and 18 years of age or older – and first incidence of alcohol dependence, abuse, and specific AUD criteria as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. They also controlled for duration of exposure, family history and a wide range of baseline and childhood risk factors.

"The key finding of this study was that people who started drinking before age 15, and to a lesser extent those who started drinking at ages 15 to 17, were more likely to become alcohol dependent as adults than people who waited until 18 or older to start drinking," said Dawson. "Past studies have often suggested that this association might result from common risk factors predisposing people to both early drinking and AUDs. Although the current study does not provide conclusive evidence that early drinking directly increases AUD risk, it suggests that it is premature to rule out the possibility of such a direct effect."

"By controlling for a variety of confounding risk factors in their analysis, Dawson and colleagues were able to demonstrate that ... early alcohol consumption itself, as a misguided choice or decision, is driving the relationship between early drinking and risk for development of later alcohol problems," observed Moss.

"We believe that impaired executive cognitive function (EGF) may lead to choices that favor the immediate pleasures of heavy drinking over avoiding the long-term risks of developing an AUD," said Dawson. "Impaired EGF would likely result from frequent and/or extremely heavy drinking at early ages, not from the simple fact of having initiated drinking at early ages. The big question is whether the impaired EGF preceded and led to the early drinking (and the increased risk of AUD), or whether the early drinking caused the impaired EGF."

These findings, she added, help build a body of research that will eventually help scientists deduce whether early drinking is a marker of high risk for AUD or a direct risk factor for AUD. "If the latter is true, it adds to the importance of preventing early drinking," she said. "Especially in light of the finding that the likelihood of developing these AUDs in adulthood is about 50 percent higher for persons who start drinking before 15 as for those who did not drink until 18 or older."

Moss agrees. "The data support the notion of delaying the onset of drinking behavior as late as possible as an important principle for the prevention of AUDs later in life," he said. "More specifically, these findings provide the scientific basis of those prevention programs that focus on decreasing underage drinking, as well as supporting those public-health policies that are geared towards the prevention of underage drinking."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Drinking Alcohol Before 15 Years Of Age Is Risky For Later Alcohol Problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929163713.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2008, September 30). Drinking Alcohol Before 15 Years Of Age Is Risky For Later Alcohol Problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929163713.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Drinking Alcohol Before 15 Years Of Age Is Risky For Later Alcohol Problems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929163713.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins