When I was a kid, my parents had what might be considered a European approach to alcohol when it came to raising my brother and me. In other words, they didn’t make it the forbidden fruit. Looking back on it, I thought it was smart and proceeded to do the same with my kids because it worked for me.
By the time I was of legal drinking age, I didn’t treat drinking like a hobby, unlike so many of my peers. I was allowed to sip wine with dinner and have a drink or two at parties by the time I was 16. To this day, I am often compelled not to drink because I don’t like how it makes me feel. I understand that alcohol is a depressant and though I may experience a few joyous moments, it ultimately brings me down. However, according to CNN, researchers at Brown University say claim children who sip alcohol at an early age will be more inclined to drink later, along with other findings that now appear in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The study’s co-author, Kristina Jackson was quoted by CNN as saying, “… I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message---younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the different between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks.” Jackson and her team studied 561 middle school students over three years and found that less than one-third said they had sipped alcohol by the beginning of middle school. Most of them said their parents allowed them a sip at a special occasion or party. Twenty-six percent said they had a full drink by the time they reached ninth grade, compared with the six percent who never had a sip. Nine percent said they had five or more drinks in one sitting, or had gotten drunk by ninth grade, compared with less than two percent who never had a sip.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) announces this year’s theme of National Alcohol Awareness Month, observed in April, is “For the Health of it: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.”
Since 1987, the NCADD works hard to increase public awareness and understanding, as well as reduce the stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcohol-related issues. The current theme aims to educate young people before problems occur. Alcohol has been named the number one drug of choice among young people, and is more likely to kill them than all the illegal drugs combined. If they do live, and have to grow and develop under the influence, consider their brains, which are still developing until well into their 20s.
Underage drinking can result in many permanent solutions to short-term problems. A drug alcohol treatment center may be one way to intervene and give your child a second chance. If you think you can’t prevent your child from drinking, consider these statistics, and figure out a way. For instance, 5,000 people under age 21 die annually from alcohol-related incidents. More than 190,000 people in the same age bracket went to the emergency room for treatment for alcohol-related injuries. Children who drink are more likely to make bad decisions such as driving under the influence, having unprotected sex or engaging in violence. They’re also more likely to be either the victims or perpetrators of a physical or sexual assault.
How can you tell if your child is drinking? Here are some possible warning signs that should parents to learn the truth.
- Academic and/or behavioral problems in school
- Changing groups of friends
- Less interest in activities and/or appearance
- Finding alcohol among a young person’s things or smelling alcohol on their breath
- Slurred speech
- Coordination problems
- Memory and/or concentration problems
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, if a teen alcoholic grows up to be an adult with the same addiction; the excessive use of alcohol over the course of many years can create a plethora of health problems including:
- Dementia, stroke and neuropathy
- Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Injuries sustained in car crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries
- Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
- Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
- Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis