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Giving teenagers small sips of alcohol at home increases risk of problem drinking 

Allowing teenagers to have smalls sips of alcohol at home can increase their risk of problem drinking, a new study has found.

Australian teens that have tried alcohol with parental consent are more likely to engage in risky drinking behaviours than those who don’t drink anything, research suggests.  

There is no evidence that introducing a small amount of alcohol teaches safe drinking habits, researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre found.

Lead author, Philip Clare, said many parents give sips of alcohol to their teens in a misguided attempt to reduce alcohol-abuse. 

‘Parental supply of alcohol is certainly common, and parental supply of sips is reasonably common too,’ Dr Clare told Daily Mail Australia.  

Around 1,900 teenagers were surveyed over seven years about their access to alcohol, binge drinking and harms related to alcohol. 

The participants were studied between the ages of 12 to 18 and were recruited from both private and public high schools.    

The research found teens who were given alcohol by their parents doubled their likelihood of seeking it out from other sources in the next year.  

Drinking with parents also increased the risk of binge drinking and alcohol-related harm within the next year in comparison to not drinking with parents.  

‘They are more likely to experience ‘alcohol-related harms’, which include things like getting in fights and having accidents.

‘Those supplied by parents are also more likely to subsequently drink alcohol supplied by friends and other adults, which is associated with even greater risk of harm,’ Dr Clare said. 

Dr Clare also explained the risk of harmful outcomes was increased with the amount of alcohol that was supplied. 

‘Parental supply of alcohol is associated with greater risk of subsequent harm.  

‘There is no evidence that it has any positive effects,’ Dr Clare said.  

The researcher encouraged parents to stop providing their children with alcohol and educate them on the risks involved.   

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