An NIH paper published in July 2014 examined 22 studies on the issue of parents providing alcohol for youth or providing a place to party. The paper concluded that, “there is little research evidence to support the notion that it is even possible to ‘teach’ children to drink alcohol responsibly”. The paper quoted three studies in 2004, 2010 and 2012 and found that “[p]arents might believe they are keeping their children and their children’s friends safe by allowing them to drink in their home. This is not the case. Adolescents who attend parties where parents supply alcohol are at increased risk for heavy episodic drinking, alcohol related problems and drinking and driving“. The same also applies to other drug use.
Simply put, the premise that parents are keeping their teens “safe” when they provide a place to party and look the other way on alcohol and drug use by their teens, albeit well-intentioned, is a false one. Similarly, the assumption that kids will “go crazy” in college if they don’t have substantial experience in high school partying and learning their limits is misplaced. The fact is that most kids will go a little crazy in college, regardless of their high school experiences! Partying, if gone unchecked during high school, is only likely to become more extreme in college.
By contrast, less risky behaviors and healthy habits reinforced during high school are likely to continue in college, even if there are aberrations. The research shows a direct correlation between each year of delay in experimentation and use, and a lower likelihood of substance abuse issues later in life. Those teens who get to 18 years old without engaging in regular substance use and abuse will have healthier adulthoods than those who don’t.
The takeaway lesson here? DELAY, DELAY, DELAY!