Canada: Early Alcohol Onset Predicts Later Harm
A new study in Canada found early alcohol onset predicts harm in later life.
Four researchers at the University of Waterloo surveyed more than 19,000 high-school students in Ontario and Alberta over two academic years starting in 2013. They tracked the teens’ self-reported alcohol use and smoking habits.
The study found:
- Teens who started alcohol use between 13 to 14 years were more likely to be alcohol users and to engage in heavy episodic alcohol use later in life compared to teens who started alcohol use at 18 years or older.
- Teens who started alcohol use at 8 years were more likely to be alcohol users, binge on alcohol and mix alcohol with energy drinks later in life than teens who started alcohol use at 18 years of older.
- Students who were periodic alcohol users (having 1 to 3 units of alcohol per month) had a tendency to progress to regular or heavy alcohol use within a year.
- Only 1% of the periodic alcohol users could scale down their alcohol use.
- Increased alcohol use correlated with tobacco and cannabis use.
- The likelihood of highly risky behaviour such as binge alcohol use increases once students progress to the regular alcohol use stage.
The study suggests stronger interventions to prevent alcohol use especially focused on youth are necessary to prevent use or decrease initiating use in an early age.
If we work on the early stages like periodic [alcohol user], we not only prevent kids from the harms from alcohol but also maybe other substances,” said Mahmood Gohari, post-doctoral public health researcher and study co-author as per CTV News.
If we want to work on maybe lowering the consumption of alcohol, we need to work on other substances as well. Programs that work on all substances are more likely to be efficient.”