Drinking With Your Teens May Increase Their Risk For Problem Drinking

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A new study finds that letting teenagers drink at home, even under parental supervision, may increase their risk of developing alcohol-related problems.

The Study

A look at 428 Dutch families found that teen drinking - no matter where it occurred - tended to lead to more drinking. Teens who drank more at home tended to be more likely to drink outside of home, with the reverse also proving true. When measured for problem drinking two years later, teens who drank more frequently tended to score higher - regardless of whether they drank at home or elsewhere.

What Does This Mean?

Some parents believe that drinking with their teens is a good way to model responsible drinking behavior and will limit the amount of alcohol they consume outside the home. This view is particularly common in the Netherlands, where this study was conducted, but is often found in other countries as well. While the thinking may sound logical, scientific evidence suggests that drinking under any circumstances - supervised or not - increases a teen's risk of developing alcohol problems. Lead researcher Dr. Haske van der Vorst suggests, "If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence, they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking."

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