A recent study from the Boston University School of Public Health has found that teens drink less in states that have more stringent alcohol policies, even if those policies are targeted at adults.
Researchers created a scoring system to assess the strength of alcohol-related policies in the US. The policies include alcohol taxing, restricting sales to certain hours, banning sales on Sundays, and limiting how many places can sell alcohol. It was found that states with tougher alcohol policies had lower rates of underage drinking and lower rates of binge drinking.
Study co-author Dr. Timothy Naimi commented: “There’s a strong overall relationship between [alcohol] policies and teen drinking, but if you account for the difference in youth-specific policies, you find the adult-oriented policies have an equal or greater effect on teen drinking.”
Experts believe that there are two main causes of this outcome. First, policies limiting adult alcohol use may have a “trickle down” effect on adolescents. Second, they believe that money is a factor. In states with higher alcohol taxes, adults may buy less booze and keep less of it in the home, making it less available for teens to drink.
Underage drinking is a contributing factor in three out of four leading causes of death among teens: unintentional injuries, homicides, and suicides. Instead of just educational interventions, this study suggests that policies restricting drinking in the overall population could be key in reducing teen drinking.
Let’s make drug and alcohol treatment for teens a last resort. Instead, let’s look at putting resources into these types of interventions so we can stop the unhealthy behavior earlier.