Early alcohol use and risk of later alcohol problems.
Uso precoce de álcool e risco de problemas futuros.
Denise Leite Vieira, Marcelo Ribeiro , Ronaldo Laranjeira
Early Alcohol Use and Risk of Later Alcohol Problems
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between age of onset, alcohol consumption patterns and related problems. Methods: In 2004, one self-administered questionnaire was completed by 2074 students from 5th to 11th grades of schools in Paulínia (SP). Data collection was conducted at the classroom without the presence of the teacher. The participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. Results: The prevalence of lifetime alcohol use among the students was 62.2%. The mean age of first use of alcohol was 12.35 (sd=2.72) and ranged between 5 and 19 years of age. In 78% of the cases the first use occurred before the age of 15, and more than 22% of the students reported having tried alcohol before adolescence (before 10 years of age). There were significant differences regarding current consumption patterns (drunkenness and heavy alcohol use, i.e., 5 or more doses per episode) when compared to the mean age of first use. The results also show a relationship between the age of first alcohol experimentation and the use of tobacco and other drugs. Conclusions: The data reveal that the adolescents experiment alcohol in early ages, what impacts the current consumption patterns. This study emphasizes the need of actions regarding public alcohol policies in Brazil in order to prevent or delay the initiation of alcohol use and its related problems.