Study Shows Strong Relationship Between
Adolescents, age 12 to 17, who use alcohol are more likely to report behavioral problems, especially aggressive, delinquent and criminal behaviors, according to findings of a new study released on March 1, 2000 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The new report, Patterns of Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Associations with Emotional and Behavioral Problems, concludes that there is a strong relationship between alcohol use among youth and many emotional and behavioral problems, including fighting, stealing, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, skipping school, feeling depressed, and deliberately trying to hurt or kill themselves. These findings are based on adolescent self-reporting of behavioral/emotional problems that occurred the past six months.
"Underage drinking—even so-called light
drinking—is dangerous, illegal, and must not be tolerated," said SAMHSA
Administrator Nelba Chavez, Ph.D. "This study points out that the effects
of underage alcohol use extend far beyond 'drinking and driving.' Parents need
to know that alcohol use can also be a warning sign or a cry for help that
something is seriously wrong in a child's life."
Other findings in the report include: Adolescents who
reported that they drank heavily were four times more likely to commit theft
outside the home than non-drinking adolescents; heavy drinkers among 12 to
17-year-olds were three times more likely to report deliberately trying to hurt
or kill themselves than the adolescent non-drinkers; and adolescent heavy
drinkers were three times more likely to report having gotten into a physical
fight than non-drinkers.
Study findings are based on a sample of 18,000 adolescents who participated in SAMHSA's 1994, 1995 and 1996 National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The NHSDA is conducted annually by SAMHSA and provides estimates of the prevalence of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use in the United States.
SAMHSA, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's lead agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment, and mental health services in the United States. News media requests for information on SAMHSA's substance abuse and mental health programs should be directed to Media Services at 1-800-487-4890. This and other news releases are available on the Internet at www.samhsa.gov.
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