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Teens Who Drink with Adult Supervision Have More Drinking Problems, Study Finds


Teens who drink with adult supervision have more drinking-related problems than their peers whose parents don’t allow them to drink, a new study shows. Researchers at the University of Washington studied 1,945 teenagers from Washington state and Australia. They chose to include teens from both the U.S. and Australia because the two countries have different attitudes about teens and drinking, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

While the U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a call to action promoting a zero-tolerance position toward youth alcohol use, in Australia surveys indicate that 30 percent to 50 percent of teen drinkers get alcohol from their parents, the researchers note in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The study found that by ninth grade, 71 percent of Australian teens and 45 percent of U.S. teens used alcohol. More than a third (36 percent) of Australian students reported having experienced harmful consequences resulting from alcohol use, compared with 21 percent of U.S. teens.

“Providing opportunities for drinking in supervised contexts did not inhibit alcohol use or harmful use in either state,” the researchers wrote. They recommend that policies should not encourage parents to drink with their children and parents should not allow their children to drink under their supervision.

“Findings challenge the harm-minimization position that supervised alcohol use or early-age alcohol use will reduce the development of adolescent alcohol problems,” the researchers wrote.

8 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Anika Gilbert
    Anika Gilbert / May 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I’d like to see this study repeated with an older group of teens. The subjects in this study were in 7th grade and then followed over the next two years, quite young to be drinking even with parental supervision. Findings might be quite different with an older cohort and with a distinction made between responsible use versus irresponsible use.

  2. Avatar of Joseph Baker
    Joseph Baker / April 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    You know brother has allowed his kids to drink in the house under his supervision. I don’t allow it period, I mean our house is drug free, alcohol free and smoke free I for one would not allow my kids to drink even under my supervision. My son always gets mad at me because he feels that I should be his friend instead of a parent…I don’t have I mixed emotions all the way around with drinking period under adult supervision…

  3. Avatar of Panther Modern
    Panther Modern / April 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I love how they choose Australia and the U.S. – two countries with serious binge-drinking and alcoholism problems for their study. Australia’s binge-drinking hospital related visits are surpassed only by the U.K. and Russia.

    If they’d sampled persons from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and other countries that have much lower levels of cultural drinking problems, I’m guessing the results of their study would have been quite different.

    Self-selecting negative results for the win!


  4. Avatar of LuAnn McLain
    LuAnn McLain / April 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I don’t agree with either Ben or Malinda about role modeling of drinking. We know that early use is tied to later addiction problems, that adolescent brain is far from developed when it comes to reasoning long-term consequences, that predicting addiction is probably almost impossible, and most every adult believes their use of alcohol is “a good role model”. There may well be weaknesses in the study or report but the belief that parents can teach their children to drink responsibly by supervising drinking is flawed.

  5. Avatar of Malinda
    Malinda / April 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I agree with Ben. The study says nothing about whether supervision was involved. This would make a huge difference in how a teen uses alcohol. A glass of wine could be okay. A bottle of wine to share with friends, probably not a good idea. Parents need to be a good role model.

  6. Avatar of Ben House
    Ben House / April 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    This study lacks a core element, was the supervised drinking responsible use? Permissive drinking is not responsible use. I am somewhat unclear how to define this, but a glass of wine at formal dinner might fit for an older teen. I do know just say “No” is a great idea, but one that seldom works. Children tend to model and teaching responsible behavior by modeling it does work.

  7. Lisa / May 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Apparently you haven’t been around the world much. I have and can tell you that both Spain and France have their fair share of alcohol-related problems. While they may have a different culture, the problems remain the same as the teens have the same brain structure as those in the US. I know it very well, having family in both countries. Bottom line: no need for alcohol when the brain is still forming. There are plenty of other beverages that can be consumed without societal impact. Enjoy life with a clear head, it is both possible and desirable, for adults as well. Alcohol has many negative connotations and denotes a lack of control for those parents that actually are clueless enough to allow their children to drink.

  8. Avatar of JG
    JG / May 3, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Ben and Malinda, lets get a grip guys and realize your views are alcohol inspired and rationalizations. Panther Modern, research is out there that proves falicies to your statement, look before you leap.

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