Vol. 10, No. 1  August 1998

Risks of Early Alcohol Use

People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age-21, according to a study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse, found that the likelihood of developing alcohol dependence or abuse increases dramatically the earlier a person begins drinking. The risk of lifetime alcohol abuse decreases by 8% and the risk of alcoholism decreases by 14% with each year that a person delays drinking.

"This [study] gives us yet another reason why the prevention of drinking among the young is so important," says Enoch Gordis, director of NIAAA.

Dr. Bridget Grant led the government research team in analyzing data from the 1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey of nearly 43,000 interviews.

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