The age of first use of alcohol has been studied for decades. The first use of alcohol refers to someone’s first memory of drinking any kind of alcoholic substance. The age of first use, of course, then represents the age that someone first remembers using alcohol. Most often, this is not a study of a parent allowing a child to try a sip of an alcoholic beverage. Instead, it refers to someone’s early memory of drinking alcohol to feel its effects.
Why Do We Study the Age of First Use of Alcohol?
We study the age of first use of alcohol to find relationships between it and happening later in life. Studies have been done to seek relationships between age of first alcohol use and mental disorders, alcoholism or multiple drug abuse as adults. The studies seek to find answers as to why some people seem more likely to develop drug addiction than others and to explain trends in treatment options.
Age of First Use and Alcohol Dependence
Overall, studies have found that the age of first use of alcohol can indicate further problems down the road. The earlier an individual begins drinking alcohol, the more likely he or she is to become dependent on it later in life.
Additionally, studies have revealed that individuals who start using alcohol while very young in age are more likely to be diagnosed as having addiction and a co-occurring mental disorder as an adult.
Facts About the Age of First Use and Alcohol Dependence
Let’s take a look at the strength of the relationship between age of first use and dependence. In 2012, a report was released from SAMHSA that examined the age of first use and the chance of a substance dependency as an adult. The results were astounding: The report consistently found that the age of first alcohol use predicts alcohol or drug dependency as an adult.
Furthermore, the report stated that the younger an individual was, the more likely they were to suffer from addiction as an adult. Here are the statistics:
- 7 percent of individuals who used alcohol for the first time at the age of 21 were currently struggling with addiction
- 1 percent of individuals who used alcohol for the first time at the ages of 15-17 were currently struggling with addiction
- 1 percent of individuals who used alcohol for the first time at 14 years or younger were currently struggling with addiction
In other words, adults who tried alcohol at fourteen were more than five times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol dependency than individuals who waited until the legal drinking age. Of course, this is not to say that early alcohol consumption leads to alcoholism, but instead to uncover a consistent relationship between the two.
If you or a loved one relates to this article regarding alcohol dependence, early alcohol consumption or addiction with a co-occurring mental health challenge, getting information is a wonderful start. Learning about addiction, alcoholism and its predictors is one way we can all examine our own health and wellbeing.
If you or someone close to you is considering treatment for addiction, you must consider the contributors to that addiction.
The professional treatment team at JourneyPure Emerald Coast treats addiction in a holistic way and provides therapeutic, balanced treatment for those with addiction, substance abuse, chemical dependency or mental health challenges. To learn more about our addiction treatment capabilities, please call us at (800) 493-5253 today.