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French Teen Drinking Raising Serious Concerns

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France, with a culture that embraces wine, is facing serious concerns about teenage binge drinking, NPR reports.

Many parents in France and other European countries permit their teens to drink alcohol at home. But new French pop-up street parties, organized through Facebook, are encouraging teens to drink shots of vodka, and are contributing to a growing problem of binge drinking among teens.

According to Bertrand Nalpas, who leads the Alcohol and Addiction Office at the French National Institute on Health and Medical Research, the number of French teenagers who drink heavily is on the rise. He estimates that about 20 percent of French 17-year-olds are drunk at least three times a month, even though new laws in France prohibit anyone under 18 from buying alcohol.

He told NPR data now shows that when teens start drinking, especially binge drinking, at a younger age, “this increases really hugely the risk of becoming dependent [on] alcohol in the future.”

Nalpas notes the average age when youngsters start drinking in France is 12. That first drink is often at home with the family. That makes it difficult to convince children that alcohol can be dangerous, he says. Even when parents do not promote drinking in the home, grandparents may encourage their grandchildren to try wine.

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