Lancet study: Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers does not reduce risks, compared to no supply, Australian study finds

28 Jan

Substance abuse is a serious problem for many young people. The Centers for Disease Control provide statistics about underage drinking in the Fact Sheet: Underage Drinking:

Underage Drinking
Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.1 Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.2 More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.2 On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.3 In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.4
Drinking Levels among Youth
The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey5 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days
• 42% drank some amount of alcohol.
• 24% binge drank.
• 10% drove after drinking alcohol.
• 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
Other national surveys indicate
• In 2008 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 28% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 19% reported binge drinking.6
• In 2009, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month.7
Consequences of Underage Drinking
Youth who drink alcohol1, 3, 8 are more likely to experience
• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
• Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
• Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
• Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
• Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
• Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
• Physical and sexual assault.
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
• Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
• Memory problems.
• Abuse of other drugs.
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
• Death from alcohol poisoning.
In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink.8
Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.9, 10
See, Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Young Adults

According to a Science Daily article, parents might want to think about the risks of providing alcohol to their underage children.

Science Daily reported in Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers does not reduce risks, compared to no supply, Australian study finds:

There is no evidence to support the practice of parents providing alcohol to their teenagers to protect them from alcohol-related risks during early adolescence, according to a prospective cohort study in Australia published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The six year study of 1927 teenagers aged 12 to 18 and their parents found that there were no benefits or protective effects associated with giving teenagers alcohol when compared to teenagers who were not given alcohol. Instead, parental provision of alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of teenagers accessing alcohol through other sources, compared to teenagers not given any alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is the leading risk factor for death and disability in 15-24 year olds globally. Drinking during adolescence is of concern as this is when alcohol use disorders (ie, dependence on or abuse of alcohol) are most likely to develop….
The study recruited teenagers and their parents between 2010 and 2011 from secondary schools in Perth, Sydney and Hobart (Australia). The teenagers and their parents completed separate questionnaires every year from 2010 to 2016 including information about how teenagers accessed alcohol (from parents, other non-parental sources, or both), binge drinking levels (defined as drinking more than four drinks on a single occasion in the past year), experience of alcohol-related harm, and alcohol abuse symptoms. In the final two years, teenagers were also asked about symptoms of alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder that could predict alcohol misuse problems in the future.
At the start of the study, the average age of the teenagers was 12.9 years old and by the end of the study the average age was 17.8 years old. The proportion of teenagers who accessed alcohol from their parents increased as the teenagers aged, from 15% (291/1910) at the start of the study to 57% (916/1618) at the end of the study, while the proportion with no access to alcohol reduced from 81% (1556/1910) teenagers to 21% (341/1618).
At the end of the study, 81% (632/784) of teenagers who accessed alcohol through their parents and others reported binge drinking, compared with 62% (224/361) of those who accessed it via other people only, and 25% (33/132) of teens who were given alcohol by their parents only. Similar trends were seen for alcohol-related harm, and for symptoms of possible future alcohol abuse, dependence and alcohol use disorders. The group of teenagers supplied with alcohol from both their parents and other sources were at the greatest risk of the five adverse outcomes, potentially as a result of their increased exposure….


Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers does not reduce risks, compared to no supply, Australian study finds
Date: January 25, 2018
Source: The Lancet
There is no evidence to support the practice of parents providing alcohol to their teenagers to protect them from alcohol-related risks during early adolescence, according to a prospective cohort study in Australia.
Journal References:
1. Richard P Mattick, Philip J Clare, Alexandra Aiken, Monika Wadolowski, Delyse Hutchinson, Jackob Najman, Tim Slade, Raimondo Bruno, Nyanda McBride, Kypros Kypri, Laura Vogl, Louisa Degenhardt. Association of parental supply of alcohol with adolescent drinking, alcohol-related harms, and alcohol use disorder symptoms: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30240-2
2. Stuart A Kinner, Rohan Borschmann. Parental supply and alcohol-related harm in adolescence: emerging but incomplete evidence. The Lancet Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30006-9

Here is the abstract from the Lancet:

Association of parental supply of alcohol with adolescent drinking, alcohol-related harms, and alcohol use disorder symptoms: a prospective cohort study
Prof Richard P Mattick, PhD Correspondence information about the author Prof Richard P Mattick Email the author Prof Richard P Mattick
Philip J Clare, MBiostats
Alexandra Aiken, MPH
Monika Wadolowski, PhD
Delyse Hutchinson, PhD
Prof Jackob Najman, PhD
Tim Slade, PhD
Raimondo Bruno, PhD
Nyanda McBride, PhD
Prof Kypros Kypri, PhD
Laura Vogl, PhD
Prof Louisa Degenhardt, PhD
Published: 25 January 2018
Open Access
Some parents supply alcohol to their children, reportedly to reduce harm, yet longitudinal research on risks associated with such supply is compromised by short periods of observation and potential confounding. We aimed to investigate associations between parental supply and supply from other (non-parental) sources, with subsequent drinking outcomes over a 6-year period of adolescence, adjusting for child, parent, family, and peer variables.
We did this prospective cohort study using data from the Australian Parental Supply of Alcohol Longitudinal Study cohort of adolescents. Children in grade 7 (mean age 12 years), and their parents, were recruited between 2010 and 2011 from secondary schools in Sydney, Perth, and Hobart, Australia, and were surveyed annually between 2010 and 2016. We examined the association of exposure to parental supply and other sources of alcohol in 1 year with five outcomes in the subsequent year: binge drinking (more than four standard drinks on a drinking occasion); alcohol-related harms; and symptoms of alcohol abuse (as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition [DSM-IV]), alcohol dependence, and alcohol use disorder (as defined by DSM-5). This trial is registered with, number NCT02280551.
Between September, 2010, and June, 2011, we recruited 1927 eligible parents and adolescents (mean age 12·9 years [SD 0·52]). Participants were followed up until 2016, during which time binge drinking and experience of alcohol-related harms increased. Adolescents who were supplied alcohol only by parents had higher odds of subsequent binge consumption (odds ratio [OR] 2·58, 95% CI 1·96–3·41; p<0·0001), alcohol-related harm (2·53, 1·99–3·24; p<0·0001), and symptoms of alcohol use disorder (2·51, 1·46–4·29; p=0·0008) than did those reporting no supply. Parental supply of alcohol was not significantly associated with the odds of reporting symptoms of either alcohol abuse or dependence, compared with no supply from any source. Supply from other sources was associated with significant risks of all adverse outcomes, compared with no supply, with an even greater increased risk of adverse outcomes.
Providing alcohol to children is associated with alcohol-related harms. There is no evidence to support the view that parental supply protects from adverse drinking outcomes by providing alcohol to their child. Parents should be advised that this practice is associated with risk, both directly and indirectly through increased access to alcohol from other sources.
Australian Research Council, Australian Rotary Health, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre….. Continue Reading at

Assuming you are not one of those ill-advised parents who supply their child with alcohol or drugs like marijuana in an attempt to be hip or cool, suspicions that your child may have a substance abuse problem are a concern. Confirmation that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. Even children whose parents have seemingly done everything right can become involved with drugs. The best defense is knowledge about your child, your child’s friends, and your child’s activities. You need to be aware of what is influencing your child.
Our goal should be:

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©


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