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Teen Alcoholics: Understanding the Causes and What You Can Do To Prevent Your Child From Developing a Drinking Problem

Posted Apr 20 2010 12:00am

Apr 20, 2010 by Aimee Stern | Categories , , , ,

One child alcoholic tells of drinking all the lemon and vanilla extract in his parents’ kitchen cabinets at the age of 9. Another discusses how she got drunk at her first high-school party and was sexually assaulted by multiple guys.

Parents of adolescents would be surprised to know just how young some kids are when they start drinking alcohol and what can happen when they do. I started looking for telltale signs in my son in 5th and 6th grade but so far I think he’s OK. Here’s some research that provides a real wake-up call:

  • Studies show that adolescents who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life.
  • Kids with major family problems are at high risk to drink young. A survey of nearly 3,600 Americans ages 18 to 39 found that kids who experienced physical or sexual abuse, lived with a mentally ill family member, or went through a divorce or separation, were more likely to begin drinking alcohol before age 15.  See more risk factors here .

While writing my book Delaying that First Drink: A Parents’ Guide, I interviewed attendees at the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s one of their stories:

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