Young Kids Who Drink Learn to Use Alcohol as Coping Mechanism
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2011 Mar 17
Young adults are more likely to be heavy drinkers if they took their first drink of alcohol at an early age and also had to cope with stressful life events, a new study suggests.
"We found that the impact of stressful life events on drinking behavior depends on the age at first drink," study first author Dorothea Blomeyer, a senior researcher at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, said in a news release from Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
"The earliest [age at first drink] in our sample was 8 years; about half of the study participants had initiated alcohol drinking before they were 14 years old," Blomeyer said. "The earlier they start with alcohol use, the stronger the association between life stress and drinking in young adults. We found this interaction effect only for the variable 'total amount of alcohol,' not for the number of drinking days. This fits to the pattern of stress-related drinking, which is characterized by a higher number of drinks, and not so much by frequent drinking."
It's likely that people who start drinking at a very young age "learn to use alcohol in stressful situations during adolescence because research indicates that, during adolescence, drinking is particularly rewarding under stressful circumstances," Blomeyer said.