Kids Allowed to Try Booze More Likely to Binge Drink as Teens

By May Wilkerson 04/09/15

Researchers may have found the reason why some kids are five times more likely to binge drink later in life.

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Kids who are allowed to try a little alcohol at home are more likely to binge drink in their teens, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that kids who had tried alcohol by the sixth grade were about five times more likely to have had a full drink by ninth grade and four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk.

The study was based on surveys of 561 Rhode Island middle-school students over the course of three years. Under a third of the students said they had sipped alcohol by the time they reached middle school, and in most cases it was given to them by their parents at a party or on a special occasion.

Of this group of kids, 26% said they had a full drink by the ninth grade versus under 6% among the kids who had never tried alcohol, the survey found. Nine percent said they had binge drank in high school or gotten drunk, versus under 2% for those who had never been allowed to try booze.

"I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message,” said study co-author Kristina Jackson, associate professor at Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. “Younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks.”

But parents who have taken a more liberal approach to their kids’ drinking don’t need to feel their kids are “doomed,” Jackson said. "I think the most important thing is to make sure that children know when drinking alcohol is acceptable and when it is not.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.