Reasons Kids Abstain from Alcohol

1. Likelihood children will use alcohol increases as they get older

About 10% of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 50%. The sooner you talk to your children about alcohol, the greater chance you have of influencing their decisions about drinking.

2. Parents play a critical role in children’s decisions to experiment with alcohol

Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol consumption, especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decision. The majority of children (almost 80%) feel that parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.

3. Some children may try alcohol as early as age 9

Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to view alcohol more positively. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK and start to experiment.

4. The conversation is often more effective before children start drinking

If you talk to your children directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use. When parents know about underage alcohol use, they can protect their children form many of the high-risk behaviors associated with it.

Results of underage drinking can have serious consequences

Underage alcohol use:

  • Is a major cause of death from injuries among young people
  • Increases the risk of carrying out, or being a victim of physical or sexual assault
  • Can cause a range of physical consequences from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning
  • Is associated with academic failure, legal problems, illicit drug and tobacco use
  • Interferes with the ability to judge risk and make sound decisions
  • Plays a significant role in risky sexual behavior
  • Can cause changes in the structure and function of the developing brain, especially when teens drink heavily

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) mission is to generate and disseminate fundamental knowledge about the adverse effects of alcohol on health and well-being, and apply that knowledge to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol-related problems, including alcohol use disorder, across the lifespan.

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