Early Alcohol Users Five Times More Likely to Be Alcohol Dependent in

Source: CESAR Fax, July 31, 2006

“Early alcohol use increases the likelihood of developing alcohol dependence at a later age, according to an analysis of data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Nearly one-half (47%) of persons who began drinking before age 14 were alcohol dependent at some point in their lifetime, and 13% were dependent in the past year, compared to 9% and 2%, respectively, of those who began drinking after age 20. Early drinking was also related to higher rates of dependence
within 10 years of onset of drinking and dependence before age 25 (data not shown). These findings held after controlling for family history of alcohol and other relevant factors, suggesting that “this relationship may not be solely a by-product of greater risk-taking behavior among early drinkers reflected by tobacco or drug use or predisposing psychological characteristics or disorders” (p. 743).

Adapted by CESAR from Hingson, R.W., Heeren, T., and Winter, M.R. “Age at Drinking Onset and Alcohol Dependence,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160(7):739-746, 2006”

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