Teen Girls Start Drinking Earlier Than Boys, Says Study

Teen Girls | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Teen Girls Start Drinking Earlier Than Boys, Says Study

Findings of a new study published by Michigan State University report that teen girls in the U.S. are starting to drink alcohol earlier than boys. And no one really knows why.

There are speculations, however. For one, drinking has become more socially acceptable for women than it was in the past – among other factors, feminism might have something to do with this. Also, girls reach puberty earlier than boys, so may begin indulging in risky behaviors sooner.

A third reason may be that girls tend to spend time with older boys, leading to alcohol exposure. The same is not necessarily true the other way around.

However, underage teen girls also gravitate toward lighter, sweeter drinks, such as wine coolers. These are relatively inexpensive and not hard to allocate. Also, many approaches to curb underage drinking have traditionally been focused on boys, because it used to be more common for males to use alcohol.

In the study, data on 390,000 teens and young adults in the U.S. was collected. Persons aged from 12-24 participated in government surveys on substance use from 2002-2013.

In middle adolescence, girls are more likely to begin drinking than boys. After age 19, however, boys drank more than girls.

This fact is in line with other statistics on women and alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that adult women are also closing the gap between men regarding alcohol abuse.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2014), more than 16 million adults over age 18 had an alcohol use disorder – over 10 million men and nearly 6 million women.

Additionally, youths aged 12-17 with alcohol use disorder numbered nearly 680,000. However, females outnumbered males, 367,000 to 311,000, respectively. That’s a difference of 16%.

Aaron White, NIAAA:

“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, all narrowed for females and males.”

“Males still consume more alcohol, but the differences between men and women are diminishing,”

You can check out the study online in the journal Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related: Breaking the Myth: On Being an Alcohol Addict

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