Drinks before age 15 could boost alcoholism risk

September 30, 2008 2:22:10 PM PDT
Parents who introduce their children to alcohol in the hope of encouraging responsible drinking may be doing more harm than good. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism finds drinking before the age of 15 increases a child's risk of becoming a heavy drinker.

The study matched information on teenage drinking habits with more than 22,000 Americans who developed alcohol related problems Those who started drinking before 15 were more likely to become dependent as adults.

Researchers believe a teenager's fast developing brain becomes programmed to link alcohol with pleasure. They say keeping teens alcohol-free for as long as possible could help keep them from developing a drinking problem in adulthood.