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Talking to Children about Alcohol before Their First Sip

More than one-in-four students have consumed more than just a few sips of alcohol by the time they reach eighth grade. Credit: 1001slide.
More than one-in-four students have consumed more than just a few sips of alcohol by the time they reach eighth grade. Credit: 1001slide.
September 8, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – With alcohol being the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the U.S., parents are being urged to talk to their children about the dangers before they take their first sips.

According to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children start to think positively about alcohol between the ages of nine and 13.

Licensed addiction counselor Sheena Williams says for most children, their parents are the biggest influence.

"So if a parent has a very flexible idea about alcohol or they're frequently engaging in alcohol use, the child kind of picks up that that's a normal behavior,” she explains. “So they're going to kind of follow down the parent’s footsteps."

The report also warns about binge drinking in adolescence, which can interfere with important aspects of brain development and lead to cognitive impairment and alcohol-induced brain damage.

In North Dakota, 26 percent of high school students take part in binge drinking.

Williams notes that the earlier the age that a person starts to drink, the higher risk that he or she will have lifetime addiction.

"Addiction starts out with experimentation and that's kind of what start to see in adolescence,” he says. “It progresses into abuse when there starts to become problems because of their use, but those problems aren't enough to make the person quit."

September is National Recovery Month.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND