Research suggests that early initiation of alcohol use is a risk factor for multiple problems later in life, including heavy episodic drinking and alcohol use disorders.
Prevention scientists are particularly interested in understanding the reasons why young people experiment with alcohol and measures that can be introduced to help reduce alcohol use amongst this age group.
The aim of this study was to examine think link between:
- alcohol use initiation and heavy episodic drinking among adolescents in Chile.
- alcohol prices and the age of initiation of alcohol use, taking into account socioeconomic status and sex
The researchers examined data from the Estudio Nacional de Drogas en Población Esclar, a national and regionally representative urban survey of 8th–12th-grade students (typically, ages 13–17) conducted between 2003 and 2015.
Results from the study found:
- A 10% increase in real alcohol prices was associated with delayed alcohol use initiation of approximately 6.6 months
- youth who had started drinking alcohol at a later age were less likely to report heavy episodic drinking during the previous month
- girls and young people of lower socioeconomic status more responsive to alcohol price changes compared to boys and youth of higher socioeconomic.
The researchers conclude by suggesting their research provides evidence in favour of introducing a policy that increases the price of alcohol products to delay alcohol initiation.