Research reveals decades-long consequences of drinking as a teen

Research reveals decades-long consequences of drinking as a teen

Misusing alcohol as a teenager can increase the risk of developing drinking issues in your 20s and 30s, and damage health in the long-term, according to new research.

The study, titled ‘Exploring the relationships between adolescent alcohol misuse and later life health outcomes’, was conducted by Rutgers University and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Researchers used data gathered from the questionnaires of 2,733 pairs of twins born in Finland in the late 1970s, to collate the findings.

Participant responses were categorized as teenage alcohol misuse depending on how often they had consumed alcohol, how often they had become intoxicated, and issues relating to alcohol at ages 16, 17 and 18.5.

This information was then assessed alongside physical symptoms, health, and life-satisfaction at age 34.

The harm of adolescent drinking

According to the authors of the study, which was part funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Academy of Finland, the findings emphasize a need for interventions aimed at teenagers who abuse alcohol, to minimize the consequences to health and wellbeing in later life.

Although previous studies have looked at the effects of teenage drinking on young adults, researchers at Rutgers and VCU examined the effects of alcohol consumption decades later.

Findings included:

  • Higher rates of young adult alcohol problems in people who had misused alcohol in adolescence
  • Drinking problems in participants’ 20s linked to alcohol struggles in their 30s

Angela Pascale, first author of the study and a student in the Ph.D. in Health Psychology program at VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, said: “Understanding these long-term effects will further our understanding of early targeted interventions in adolescence that may prevent or mitigate long-term negative health consequences, and improve quality of life across the lifespan.”

Talking to your teen about alcohol

According to figures published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), underage drinking is a ‘significant problem’ in the US.

A 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the CDC found that 29% of high school students had drunk alcohol during the previous 30 days, 14% binge drank, and 17% had ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Despite these figures however, many parents struggle to start a dialogue with their children regarding the dangers of alcohol misuse.

When starting a conversation about alcohol consumption with your teen, it’s important to emphasise that any questions are coming from a place of care and concern for their wellbeing, rather than being angry and accusatory.

If you have concerns that your child is misusing alcohol, there are some signs you can look out for, including:

  • An unusual odor on their breath
  • Behavioral changes e.g. depressed/withdrawn
  • Increased risk-taking
  • Loss of interest in school or other activities
  • Lack of interest in their appearance

One way to find out for sure whether a person is misusing alcohol is with an alcohol test, such as the AlphaBiolabs Drug & Alcohol Nail Test, which looks for the presence of alcohol biomarkers in nail clippings.

However, it’s important to remember that there are many reasons why a child might appear withdrawn or despondent that have nothing to do with drinking alcohol, such as an underlying physical or mental health condition that requires support.

For this reason, we strongly advise that you have an open and honest conversation with your child before taking the next step of ordering an alcohol test.

If your child has a history of alcohol use, it is recommended that you seek support from a professional such as an addiction specialist, physician or counsellor, who will be able to provide advice and guidance.

Home alcohol testing you can trust

Whether you have concerns about a teen using drugs or alcohol, or simply want a test for other personal reasons, our peace of mind home Drug & Alcohol Nail Test could be the right test for you.

Available from just $99, this easy-to-use kit allows you to test for drug and/or alcohol use, with only fingernail clipping or toenail clipping samples required.

Simply collect your samples and return them to our accredited testing laboratory for 100% accurate results in 7-10 days.

Please be aware that our Drug & Alcohol Nail Test is for peace of mind only. You can use this test to get the answers you need, but the results cannot be used in legal proceedings or in court.

For more information, email our friendly and discreet Customer Services team at

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