Early Drinking Causes Early Death, Study Finds

By David on August 5, 2022 in Drug Abuse
Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4300 deaths among youth in the US. Even though alcohol consumption is legal for persons under the age of 21, about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the US accounts for young people between 12 and 20 years of age. What’s more, underage drinkers consume more alcohol per occasion than adults. It is a major problem that adolescents drink alcohol, particularly in such large quantities. Besides jeopardizing their health and safety, alcohol can also increase one’s risk of early death the latest study found.

Underage drinking and early death

A group of researchers at the University of Florida carried out a study whose primary objective was to investigate the consequences of underage drinking. Led by Dr. Hui Hu, the team of scientists analyzed the drinking habits and death records of about 15,000 adults who were followed for three decades.
They examined data from the early 1980s and asked participants whether they’ve ever been drunk and how old were they when it happened for the first time. Most participants were between 18 and 44 years old at the onset of the study.
Results showed that getting drunk before 15th birthday doubles the risk of early death, Daily Mail reports. Shockingly, people who get inebriated before they’re 15 are 47% more likely to die prematurely than those who do not. Excessive drinking at 15 or older increased one’s risk of early death by 20%.

Why early drinking leads to early death?

Hu explains that getting drunk early is strongly associated with developing alcohol use disorders, meaning a person who starts binge-drinking alcohol in early age is more likely to develop alcoholism. This plays a role in alcoholism-related mortality rates.
Additionally, heavy alcohol intake among youth can also lead to unhealthy risk-taking behavior and mental health problems. About 37% of participants who reported getting drunk young developed alcohol use disorder later in life. On the other hand, only 11% of those who got drunk when they were older developed alcoholism.
While 61% of participants reported getting drunk at some point, about 13% of first-time cases occurred when a person was younger than 15. This finding highlights the growing problem regarding underage drinking and the frequent use of alcohol among teens who are younger than 15 and it emphasizes the importance of taking action to prevent it.
By the completion of the study, only 19% of those who never got drunk died compared to 23% of those who got inebriated later and 29% of participants who reported binge drinking early. These findings illustrate the need to be more proactive regarding this problem, but numerous factors play a role in underage drinking. Peer pressure, family members with drinking problems contribute to a higher intake of alcohol among youth. It is needless to mention that movies, TV shows oftentimes glorify this behavior and teenagers are constantly exposed to that type of content.

How to tell your teenager is consuming alcohol

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Alcohol missing from your house
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Unexplained injuries and bruises, your teen doesn’t remember how he/she got them
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor coordination
  • Missing school or classes
  • Bad grades
  • Getting in trouble with the law or at school
  • Mood changes
  • Secretive behavior

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