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Underage Drinking Made Easier by Parents

Armen Hareyan's picture

A recent study on teen alcohol drinking has uncovered information that you may find surprising. While some kids try to hide their underage drinking habits from their parents, others simply obtain the alcohol from their parents and other adults.

A government survey from 2002 to 2006 found that more than half of American teenagers have engaged in underage drinking. Forty percent of those surveyed said they got the alcohol from an adult for free over the past month. Of those, six percent said they obtained the alcohol from a family member, such as a parent. Four percent said they took the alcohol directly from their own homes.

"In far too many instances parents directly enable their children's underage drinking - in essence encouraging them to risk their health and well-being," said acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson. "Proper parental guidance alone may not be the complete solution to this devastating public health problem - but it is a critical part."

Of those ages 12 to 20, about one out of five said they engaged in binge drinking in the past month, which means they consumed five or more drinks on at least one occasion. These rates were much higher if the teen lived with a parent who took part in binge drinking.

The study on teen alcohol drinking also found the following.

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More than 50 percent of current underage drinkers were at another person's home when they had their last drink, while 30.3 percent were in their own home. Approximately 9.4 percent were at a restaurant, bar or club.

Each year, approximately 3.5 million teens ages 12 to 20 meet the diagnostic criteria for having an alcohol-use disorder.

Among younger teens, slightly more girls reported drinking than boys. Boys and girls drank at roughly the same rate among middle teens. Among 18- to 20-year-olds, boys drank more than the girls.

Among 12- to 20-year-olds, rates of current and binge alcohol use were higher in the Northeast and Midwest than in the South or West.

Alcohol use disorder rates among those ages 12 to 20 was higher for American Indians or Alaska Natives (14.9 percent) than for whites (10.9 percent), Hispanics (8.7 percent), Asians (4.9 percent), and blacks (4.6 percent).

Source: "Survey: Underage drinkers get alcohol free from adults." CNN.com. June 26, 2008.