Researchers Release a New Report on Binge and Underage Drinking

One in 9 eighth graders report being drunk at least once, new research has found. Children as young as 9 should be given the talk about alcohol and the dangers of drinking, based on a new survey published in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report found that two out of every three students – or 66 percent – have consumed more than just a few sips of alcohol by the their last year of  high school, and more than one-quarter have by the time they reach eighth grade.

"We must approach drinking in children, particularly binge drinking, differently than we do in adults," Dr. Lorena Siqueira, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and co-author of the report, said in a news release.

The report also found that youth who drink do so more heavily than adults, increasing from approximately 50 percent in those 12 to 14 years of age to 72 percent among those 18 to 20 years old. In particular, children ages 9 and 13 say they have positive thoughts about alcohol, which researchers believe is partly influenced by alcohol advertising. 

"Teenagers and young adults who are curious and trying to fit in can easily be influenced by their peers," Siqueira said in the release. "Teens who binge drink are more likely to exhibit impaired judgment and engage in risky behaviors such as drunk driving, ride in a car with an impaired driver and have higher rates of suicide. As with most high-risk behaviors, early prevention proves to be more effective than later intervention."

Alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the United States, and its use is associated with the leading causes of death and serious injury at this age, the report states.  

“As with any high-risk behavior, prevention plays a more important role than later intervention and has been shown to be more effective. In the pediatric office setting, it is important to ask every adolescent about alcohol use,” researchers concluded.

SEE ALSO:

App Available to Help Parents Talk about Dangers of Alcohol with Kids