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Teenagers and alcohol

Many teenagers come under peer pressure to try alcohol. In excess, alcohol can cause serious health problems in children, teenagers and adults alike.

The law says alcohol cannot be bought on behalf of anyone under 18. It is also illegal to give alcohol to children under 5 years old.

Statistics show that nearly half of young people who drink alcohol get it from their parents.

Should parents let children drink alcohol?

Some parents take the view that they'd rather their teenager was introduced to alcohol while supervised at home, rather than when out with friends.

Parents giving alcohol to under 18s are responsible for their safety.

In addition to the laws on alcohol, the government's Chief Medical Officer says an alcohol-free childhood "is the healthiest and best option".

However, if children are to be allowed alcohol, the official advice is to wait until they are 15 or older.

Alcohol should only be given to 15 to 17 year olds rarely, the government says, and always under parental or carer supervision.

Binge drinking should be avoided. The latest UK guidelines say men and women shouldn't drink more than 14 units a week, spread over 3 days or more, with some alcohol free days. A standard glass of wine is 2.1 units and a pint of beer is around 2 units.

Parents are encouraged to talk to children about the dangers of alcohol before they are allowed to try it. Dangers include poor judgment, risky sexual behaviour and fights. Setting boundaries is encouraged as children are less likely to start drinking alcohol if their parents are against it.

Teenagers allowed to drink alcohol should be warned about the dangers of their drinks being spiked outside the home, and making sure they plan ahead to get home safely.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 20, 2017

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