New studies show that adult supervision of teen drinking â€“ referred to as â€œharm minimization,â€ actually leads to more alcohol-related problems, not less.
The latest study was published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The study was conducted by a team of American and Australian researchers from the University of Minnesota, the Social Development Research group in Seattle, Washington, and the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia. The study followed more than 1,900 teens in Washington state and Victoria, Australia, for a two-year period from seventh to ninth grade. During that time, participants answered questions from researchers regarding how often they drank with adults as well as their total alcohol use and alcohol-related problems.
Researchers found that by the time participants reached eighth grade, 67 percent of Australian teens and 35 percent of American teens had consumed alcohol under adult supervision. Once the participants reached ninth grade, 36 percent of Australian teens and 21 percent of American teens had experienced significant alcohol-related problems such as binge drinking, blackouts, and fights. Whether they were from Australia or America, teens who drank with adults were more likely to drink, period. And, they were more likely to experience harmful alcohol-related consequences by the time they reached ninth grade.
Given their findings, researchers who conducted this study recommend a â€œno-useâ€ policy for underage youth. Lead researcher Barbara McMorris, Ph.D. of the University of Minnesota said, â€œKids need black-and-white messages early on. Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase.â€
This study is consistent with a growing body of research that shows â€œharm minimizationâ€ is a myth. Adult-supervised drinking doesnâ€™t translate into responsible drinking among teens. No amount of drinking is responsible or safe for underage youth. Visit our website to learn more about how alcohol can affect the brains of growing teens.
â€œAdult-supervised drinking in teens may lead to more alcohol use,â€ EmaxHealth.com, April 28, 2011.
â€œYouâ€™re not doing your teen any favors by letting them drink,â€ BusinessWeek.com, April 29, 2011.