Alcohol & Children
While we know that drinking alcohol has a tremendous impact on ourselves, our alcohol consumption is also influencing those around us. This is never more apparent than when we have little eyes watching us, and we should know all the facts before we consume alcohol around children and teenagers. Let’s take a look at what we know about alcohol consumption in children, teens, and young adults.
The data shows that underage alcohol consumption can begin at extremely early ages, even starting as early as 11 or 12 years old. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that by age 15, about 29.8% of teens have tried alcohol, and by age 18, 58% of teens have tried it. In fact, the CDC reports that people aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all of the alcohol purchased in the United States.
When children drink alcohol, we know that it can impact their development and outcomes in many ways. Underaged drinking has serious implications for brain development; research shows that the human brain continues developing well into our mid-20’s, and when this process is interrupted by alcohol, it can have serious impacts on the structure and function of the brain. This may result in behavioral, learning, and cognitive issues in both the short and long term. Additionally, early exposure to alcohol can impact a person’s lifetime relationship with alcohol. When a person starts drinking before the age of 15, they are 4 times more likely to experience alcohol dependence later in life.