Teens who binge drink more likely to drive while intoxicated later in life: Study
Teenagers who binge drink in their senior year of high school may exhibit dangerous behaviors later in life, including driving while intoxicated, according to a study that suggests parental support during this phase of a teen’s life may help curb later risks.
Researchers, including those from Yale University in the US, assessed data from the NEXT Generation Health Study — a study in the US of high schoolers that followed 2,785 young people over the course of seven years.
According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, the protective effect of parental monitoring, and the awareness among teens about their parents’ attitudes about alcohol lasted as much as four years after leaving high school.
Additionally, the study said young people who binge in 12th grade were, two years later, six times more likely to drive while intoxicated compared to those who did not binge drink.
Binge drinkers in 12th grade were also four years later, more than twice as likely to drive while intoxicated, the researchers said.
“There is great prevention power in intentional parenting, and a strong, reliable, mutual relationship here can make all the difference in the world, including helping to identify the development of youth alcohol/drug use disorder and the need for specialized treatment services for addiction,” said lead author Federico Vaca from Yale University.
“As kids get older, we tend to step away from them. We think: ‘They’ve got this.’ But if kids think we approve or disapprove of them drinking, that can have a powerful effect,” Vaca said.
According to the researchers, the findings provide a valuable opportunity to bolster the roles of parent monitoring and support in preventing teens from binge drinking alcohol, with a focus on intentionally strengthening the teen-parent relationship.
“A key take-home message here is: Just because kids are getting older, it doesn’t mean parents should stop inquiring about where they are going, who they will be with, and how they are spending their money,” said Vaca.
“Parents should continue to be intentional about their relationships with their teens, staying connected and mindful about how their teen spends his or her free time. This could make all the difference,” Vaca added.