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Many Kids Get Alcohol From Family Members

Study Shows Nearly 45% of 12- to 14-Year-Olds Get Alcohol From Their Family or at Home
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 17, 2011 -- Almost 6% of young people between the ages of 12 and 14 drank alcohol in the past month, and close to half of them got it at home or from family members, a study shows.

Young people who drink before they are 15 are six times more likely to experience problems with alcohol later in life, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

According to the new study by SAMHSA:

  • 5.9% of kids 12 to 14 said they drank alcohol in the month before being surveyed. That amounts to an estimated 700,000 young people in this age group.
  • 93.4% of those who drank alcohol said they got it for free.
  • 44.8%, or about 317,000, said they got their alcohol from their family or at home. This includes 15.7% or an estimated 111,000 kids 12-14 who got alcohol from parents or guardians.

Risk to Future Health

“People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, says in a news release. “Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction.”

The new report, “SAMHSA Data Spotlight: Young Alcohol Users Often Get Alcohol from Family or Home,” is based on combined data from the agency’s 2006 to 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health and involves more than 44,000 kids age 12 to 14 who responded.

According to the new report, family members sometimes could play a direct role in reducing adolescents’ access to alcohol, which not only could help prevent adolescent drinking, but the early onset of other problems associated with alcohol, such as alcoholismand heart disease.

Key findings of the report include that:

  • 19.6% of underage alcohol users got it from another underage person for free.
  • 13.5% obtained alcohol for no charge from an unrelated adult.
  • 6.8% got it by taking it from someone else’s home.
  • 15.2% took it from their own homes.
  • 13.9% got their alcohol from adult relatives.
  • 15.7% got their alcohol from parents or guardians.
  • 8.8% obtained alcohol from other, unspecified sources, for free.

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