Drinking is an indelible part of American social life, and parents often give their children the first taste in the hopes that they will teach responsible drinking. While alcohol use does prove safer in the home, that first sip may turn into a weekend of drinking with friends and soon those enticing spirits may be calling upon your child several times a week. Research shows that early drinking puts kids at greater risk for alcohol abuse later in life.
The Facts About Drinking
A recent study of more than 1,900 children ages twelve and thirteen revealed that thirty-six percent had their first taste of alcohol with their parents. Of that group, twenty-one percent ended up experiencing alcohol-related problems one year later.
A different study examined forty thousand adults; of those who got involved with alcohol before the age of twenty, nearly fifty percent became alcoholics by the time they reached adulthood. In addition, only nine percent of those who tried alcohol after the age of twenty-one became addicted to the substance when they became adults.
Alcohol is the most prevalent drug among adolescents, and it has the highest death rate. Forty percent of teens report alcohol use by eighth grade, and fifty-five percent report being drunk at least once by their senior year.
Studies show that the younger the age of drinkers, the more likely they are to binge drink–be it from irresponsibility, peer pressure, or simply being misinformed. And while the number of kids getting hooked on alcohol is decreasing, nearly seventy-three percent of American adolescents report having tried alcohol at least once in their lives.
The truth is, those who abstain from alcohol use as teens are far less likely to become reliant on drugs or alcohol as adults.
Problems With Early Drinking Including Alcohol As A Gateway
Many believe that alcohol is the most harmful drug because of its availability and social acceptance. Certainly, statistics show that the majority of drug addicts started out on alcohol.
Alcohol depletes the body of vital nutrients, particularly vitamin B1, a nutrient involved in proper functioning of the nervous system. A vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to problems like muscle weakness, memory problems, numbness and tingling in the body, heart failure and even dementia. Lack of B1 is also known to cause depression, which may be one of the reasons alcoholics turn to heavier drugs for a greater high.
A recent study revealed that alcohol, in 57% of cases, led to prescription opiate abuse. Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem–overdoses of medical opiates kill more Americans every year than cocaine and heroin combined.
Whether alcohol truly is the worst gateway drug is a matter of debate, but the truth remains that alcohol prevention is drug prevention. Experts at Narconon locations across the country urge parents to set a good example for their children, discourage drinking, and talk to them about the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse.
Parents should also set an example for their children by not participating in binge or excessive drinking. Temperance should be used with alcohol if one is of legal drinking age. Those under the age of 21 should not be using the substance and be educated on why it is dangerous to participate in early drinking.
For more information on how to prevent early drinking or to help someone with an alcohol problem, contact one of our Narconon locations today.