A Word About Statistics
(Part 12: In the Open blog series)
by Stephanie Pericich
If you’re like me, you’ve become desensitized to statistics– they seem to be everywhere! Yet every once in a while, a statistic gets my attention. Here is a case in point:
“A 13-year old that starts drinking regularly has a 45% chance of having an alcohol disorder as an adult. This risk factor drops to a 7% chance of a disorder if alcohol consumption is delayed until age 21.” Source: NCADD, as quoted in “Don’t Wait,” a film by Addiction is Real (2020)
Parents sometimes choose to serve alcohol in their homes to their underage kids and the kids’ friends, citing a variety of reasons for doing so. For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on just one of the reasons that I’ve heard from parents: “We only serve alcohol on really special occasions (e.g., birthdays, graduations, etc.) Surely, one or two times won’t hurt.”
It’s true that the aforementioned statistic specifically mentions that drinking regularly leads to a greater chance of an eventual alcohol disorder. But if every parent in a given teen friend group subscribes to the same “just this once” philosophy, then it won’t be long before this group of friends is, in fact, drinking regularly.
Also, there is a wide range between a 7% chance of developing an alcohol disorder and a 45% chance; the implication is that even occasional drinking will result in a greater chance of developing an alcohol disorder later in life.
With more teens getting vaccinated every day, more (and larger) home parties are sure to become more prevalent over the summer and into the next school year. My hope is that parents keep the NCADD statistic in mind, especially when tempted to serve underage guests “just this once.” This will be my last blog entry until the fall. Until then, I sincerely wish you and your families the very happiest and healthiest of summers!
Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.