Where do children get alcohol? According to a new study, many children ages 12 to 14 get alcohol from their own parents. In fact, the study, by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), shows that 709,000 12 to 14 year olds are drinking.
Says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S Hyde, “People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction.”
As the years wear on, the age at which kids start drinking is getting lower and lower. In 2003 the average fist drink came at the age of 14, whereas in 1965 this age was 17.5.
According to Peter Delany, the director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, “About 5.9% of 12 to 14 year olds have used alcohol in the past month. That’s a pretty large number. And almost all of these kids got that alcohol for free. Anecdotally, parents say, ‘Well, at least they are drinking at home and not on the street, or at least they are not smoking marijuana’, all kinds of silly things. If you want to have a big impact on preventing problems with youth alcohol use, it starts at home. This is a wholly preventable behavior.”
S. Cody Barrus