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Parents giving their children alcohol doesn't lower the risks

Researchers say drinking during adolescence is particularly concerning

shutterstock_1011189481 Source: Shutterstock/Kiryakova Anna

A SIX YEAR study in Australia has found that parents giving their children alcohol does not lower alcohol-related risks.

The study published in the Lancet Public Health journal spoke to 1927 teenages and their parents. It founded that there were no benefits or protective effects associated with giving teenagers alcohol when compared to teenagers who were not given alcohol.

Instead, parental provision of alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of teenagers accessing alcohol through other sources, compared to teenagers not given any alcohol.

Researchers say drinking during adolescence is particularly concerning as that is when dependence issues are likely to develop.

The study recruited teenagers and their parents between 2010 and 2011 from secondary schools in Perth, Sydney and Hobart. The teenagers and their parents completed separate questionnaires every year from 2010 to 2016 including information about how teenagers accessed alcohol (from parents, other non-parental sources, or both), binge drinking levels, experience of alcohol-related harm, and alcohol abuse symptoms. In the final two years, teenagers were also asked about symptoms of alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder that could predict alcohol misuse problems in the future.

At the start of the study, the average age of the teenagers was 12.9 years old and by the end of the study the average age was 17.8 years old. The proportion of teenagers who accessed alcohol from their parents increased as the teenagers aged, from 15% (291/1910) at the start of the study to 57% (916/1618) at the end of the study, while the proportion with no access to alcohol reduced from 81% (1556/1910) teenagers to 21% (341/1618).

At the end of the study, 81% (632/784) of teenagers who accessed alcohol through their parents and others reported binge drinking, compared with 62% (224/361) of those who accessed it via other people only, and 25% (33/132) of teens who were given alcohol by their parents only. Similar trends were seen for alcohol-related harm, and for symptoms of possible future alcohol abuse, dependence and alcohol use disorders.

Professor Richard Mattick, University of New South Wales, Australia said:

“Our study is the first to analyse parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol. This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied. We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms.”

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