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Risks for Alcohol-Related Problems

This Web site is primarily concerned with preventing teen alcohol use. We also need to pay attention to the possibility of youth alcohol abuse. Certain children are more likely than others to drink heavily and encounter alcohol-related difficulties, including health, school, legal, family, and emotional problems. Kids at highest risk for alcohol-related problems are those who:

  • Begin using alcohol or other drugs before age 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; and
  • Experience ongoing hostility or rejection from parents and/or harsh, inconsistent discipline.

The more of these experiences a child has had, the greater are 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, but it does suggest that you may need to act now to help protect your youngster from later problems.