MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- About 709,000 adolescents aged 12 to 14 in the United States report drinking in the last month, and a substantial number of them get their alcohol from family or at home, according to new research released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Researchers with SAMHSA combined data from their 2006 to 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, which surveyed more than 44,000 children between 12 and 14 years of age to determine how and where adolescents obtain alcoholic beverages.
The researchers found that 93.4 percent of the 5.9 percent of adolescents who drank alcohol in the last month got it for free. Nearly half, 44.8 percent, indicated they received their alcohol for free from family or at home; 15.7 percent indicated they received free alcohol from a parent or guardian. And overall, 93.4 percent said they received their alcohol for free.
"People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction," Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., a SAMHSA administrator, said in a statement.