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.
Thanks for your blog posts. I agree with you on that stunning statistic about the age of when kids start drinking and risks for alcoholism as an adult. I hope that many parents read your blog.
Thank you, Peggy! I appreciate your support of the blog, and all of the great work that you do for AHC and for the community.
Another excuse I have heard is if we let them do it here they will be less likely to do it when outside the house.
Thank you for your blogs and we will be waiting for them to start back up.
Yes, I have heard that excuse as well. I’ve also heard that parents serve alcohol at home so that they can supervise and intervene if things get out of control. That doesn’t seem to be a very good excuse either; certainly, things can get out of control wherever teens and alcohol are involved – home or elsewhere.
Thank you for your support of the blog. I look forward to seeing you and Patti at future AHC meetings.
I will never understand why any parent would allow underage drinking, especially other people’s kids. Unfortunately, it’s something that has been going on for generations, and unlikely to stop. I agree with Ellis, such a lame excuse that if you let them drink at home, they will not drink outside the house. I feel that that just gives them the ok to drink elsewhere. Would love to see the statistics for how many alcoholics were allowed to drink at home with parents.
I agree – it would be interesting to know how many kids who drank at home developed alcohol disorders as adults. And you’re right – certainly this is not a new problem. I vividly recall peer pressure to drink in the 1980s, and my mother relays stories about feeling pressured to drink in the 1950s. But we have more data available to us now than. ever before, and hopefully we can use the data to help encourage good choices.
Thanks so mich for your support of the blog. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful summer.