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Q.  I am concerned that my kids may be at higher risk for developing alcohol-related problems if they start drinking at a very young age. What are the risks?

A.  Some children are more likely than others to develop alcohol-related problems. Kids at highest risk are those who: 

  • Begin using alcohol or other drugs before the age of 15 
  • Have a parent who is a problem drinker or an alcoholic 
  • Have close friends who use alcohol and/or other drugs 
  • Have been aggressive, antisocial, or hard to control from an early age 
  • Have experienced childhood abuse and/or other major traumas 
  • Have current behavioral problems and/or are failing at school 
  • Have parents who do not support them, do not communicate openly with them, and do not keep track of their behavior or whereabouts 
  • Experience ongoing hostility/rejection from parents and/or harsh, inconsistent discipline 

The more of these experiences a child has had, the greater the chances that he or she will develop problems with alcohol. Having one or more risk factors does not mean that your child definitely will develop a drinking problem. It does suggest that you may need to act now to help protect your youngster from later problems. 

Delaying the onset of drinking is certainly a good place to start!

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