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Increased Risk of Alcoholism Linked to Drinking at Earlier Age

January 15, 1998

The younger children or teenagers are when they start to drink, the more likely they are to become alcoholics, according to a new study in today's Journal of Substance Abuse. Epidemiologists Bridget F. Grant and Deborah A. Dawson of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism interviewed 43,000 people for the study.

They found that 40% of people who took their first drink--other than a simple sip or taste--at age 15 developed alcohol dependence, commonly called alcoholism, compared to only 10% of those who took their first drink after age 20. Overall, the risk for alcoholism declined 14% for each year an adolescent delayed drinking.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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