Parents Supplying Alcohol May Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems

For adolescents who drink alcohol, parental provision of the first alcoholic beverage was associated with lower subsequent alcohol-related problems (including heavy episodic drinking or "bingeing") compared to those who received their first alcoholic drink from friends or others.

The research studied 608 14- to 17-year-olds from the 2007 Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey and is published in the scientific journal, European Addiction Research.

The findings are consistent with other research. For example, teenagers who reported drinking alcohol with their parents were found to be less likely than others to have either consumed alcohol or abused it in recent weeks according to a nation-wide study of over 6,200 teenagers in 242 communities across the U.S.

Similarly, teenagers who drink alcohol with their parents are less likely to drink heavily, according to research among 10,000 students aged 15 and 16 in 130 schools in England.

Dr. Mark Bellis, who led the study and heads the Public Health Centre, said "The majority of people who are drinking at early ages are not then going on to be problem drinkers later in life." He said "The real issues are around people understanding alcohol, learning about alcohol, being set a good example by their parents."

Dr. Bellis observed that "The majority of people, by the age of 14, 15 or 16, have drunk alcohol. The question is are they learning to drink from their parents, in a socially responsible environment or are they learning behind the bushes in a park or in a bar where they shouldn't be in the first place?" The health leader emphasized that "The chances are, if they are in the latter position, they are learning to binge-drink, they are hiding their drinking (from their parents)."

These findings are to be expected. Those societies and cultural groups with very high rates of drinking but very low rates of alcohol-related problems have certain common keys to success. One such protective key is that in these groups young people learn about moderate drinking from their parents and they do so from an early age.

Note: This website is informational only and makes no suggestions or recommendations of any kind about parenting and alcohol and none should be inferred.


  • Kelly, A., et al. How important is the context of an adolescent's first alcoholic drink: Evidence that parental provision may reduce later heavy episodic drinking, European Addiction Research, 2012, 18(3), 140-148.

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