Long-term study identifies risks associated with adolescent drinking
All drinking at the age of 16 is associated with an
increased risk of drinking problems at the age of 30, but some problems
are specifically related to binge drinking whilst others are more
strongly related to frequent drinking.
A study of data from a UK national birth cohort examined
the separate effects of binge drinking and frequent drinking at the age
of 16 on a range of outcomes at the age of 30. Binge drinking was
defined as having drunk four or more drinks in a row at least twice in
the last two weeks. Frequency of drinking was classified as ‘rarely or
never,’ ‘weekly or less often’ or ‘two or more times per week.’ In fact,
most of the results were similar for ‘weekly or less often’ and ‘two or
more times per week’ so ‘frequent drinking’ can be taken to mean ‘more
often than rarely.’
Both binge drinking and frequent drinking were predictive
of heavy drinking and alcohol dependency at age 30 and neither were
predictive of heavy smoking, psychiatric problems or homelessness. For
other measures, the associations differed for binge drinking and for
frequent drinking. Binge drinking was associated with lower social
class, civil or criminal convictions, significant accidents, temporary
exclusions from school and leaving school without qualifications.
Frequent drinking, on the other hand, was associated with higher social
status, use of illicit drugs and pregnancy before the age of 18, though
the last was only for those who drank two or more times per week.
Source: Viner, R. M. and B. Taylor (2007). “Adult
outcomes of binge drinking in adolescence: findings from a UK national
birth cohort.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 61: 902-907.