Does Letting Kids Drink at Home Really Teach Them How to Drink?  

Does Letting Kids Drink at Home Really Teach Them How to Drink?  

  • Teen talking to parent

Can children be taught to drink responsibly? Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School doesn’t believe so.  Dr. Levy says, “It’s a myth that you can teach kids to drink.”  

According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, among people who start drinking before age 14, 47% experienced lifetime dependency on alcohol, as compared with 9% among those who waited until age 21 or above.  

A UK-based study has shown that 14-year-olds who were allowed to drink at home were more than twice as likely to drink heavily and binge drink within the following year as kids whose parents did not give them permission to drink.  

This is particularly worrying, given that research indicates that the number of parents allowing teen drinking at home seems to have increased during the pandemic.  

According to JAMA author Anita Slomski, MA, by timing their newfound permissiveness during a time of such widespread hardship, parents may be sending the message that it’s ok to turn to alcohol when you need help coping. During the pandemic, alcohol abuse has risen among adults in general and women in particular. Parents need to take particular care not to encourage alcohol consumption among children and teens. For those who are concerned that their children are already abusing alcohol, here are a few warning signs:  

Signs of Alcohol Abuse in Teens 

  • Mood swings 
  • A drop in grades and/or a deterioration of their behavior or attitude at school, including missing classes, arriving late, missing homework, etc.  
  • A change in their group of friends 
  • Secrecy in their phone calls or use of social media 
  • Deterioration in their personal hygiene and a slovenly appearance 
  • Missing alcohol in the house 
  • Empty alcohol containers hidden around the house 
  • Obvious signs of intoxication 
  • Increased spending or missing items of value 

RMH Pediatrics: 765-932-7000