Kids Who Try Alcohol are More Likely to Binge Drink Later

Study: Alcohol as Kids, Binge Drinkers Later

A new study published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that kids who are allowed to try a small amount of alcohol at home are more likely to start binge drinking when they get older. The study was conducted by the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhone Island.

The researchers discovered that children who tried alcohol by the sixth grade were approximately five times more likely to consume a full drink by the time they were in ninth grade. They were also four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk. These study conclusions came after surveying 561 middle school students from Rhode Island over the course of three years.

What Is Binge Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol content to 0.08 grams percent or above. It occurs when a male has five or more drinks or a female consumes four or more drinks during a single session that lasts approximately two hours. It’s often equated to two large glasses of wine for women and three pints of strong beer for men.

Binge drinking is a practice that’s seen increasing amounts of popularity over the years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 6 adults in the U.S. binge drink around four times a month and consume eight drinks per binge. Ninety percent of the alcohol consumed by people under the legal drinking age and more than half of the amount consumed by adults is in the form of binge drinking.

Negative Effects of Binge Drinking

Despite its popularity, binge drinking can cause serious harm. Some of the negative effects that can result from drinking too much too fast include:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls and drowning
  • Intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sexually transmitted diseases or other risky sexual behaviors
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • High blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Neurological damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Poor diabetes control

A common misconception is that binge drinkers consume alcohol every day, but this isn’t the case. According to experts, characteristics of binge drinkers are a tendency to drink quickly, regularly drinking more than the lower-risk guidelines in a single session, or sometimes drinking with the intent to get drunk.

Although some people may think that letting a child have a taste of alcohol can prepare them for future peer pressure or help them make smart choices later when it comes to alcohol, it may end up doing more harm than good. “I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message. Younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks,” said Kristina Jackson, PhD, a co-author of the study and an associate professor at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

By Jenna Mitchell

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