Drinking at a young age without parental approval and guidance is often associated with later alcoholism and behavioral problems.

Evidence now suggest that such early drinking is likely not the cause, but rather a symptom of an underlying predisposition to alcoholism and other behavioral problems. The research studies were supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"Alcohol researchers had hoped that by delaying the age at which an adolescent first tried alcohol one could lower the rate of alcoholism" said head researcher Dr. Matt McGue of the University of Minnesota. "But AFD (age of first drink)is associated with a broader range of behavioral problems, some of which precede drinking. It suggests that AFD is a symnptom of something more basic."

This means that efforts to delay the onset of alcohol consumption would be futile in reducing alcoholism and other alcohol problems.

In societies and groups in which young children are introduced to alcohol within the home and are taught moderation by their parents, the early consumption of alcohol is associated with low rates of alcohol abuse and other problems.


  • Early age of first drink likely sympton, not cause, of alcoholism. ScienceDaily, August 16, 2001 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010816083241.htm); Hanson, D. Preventing Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol, Culture and Control (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1995)