In Australia, 20% of 14- to 19-year-olds drink at least weekly. Some parents supply alcohol to their adolescent children with the intention of limiting the quantity consumed, but it is possible that such supply facilitates risky drinking. We sought to determine whether there is an association between parental supply and risky drinking.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in seven high schools in New South Wales, Australia. Five hundred and thirty students (mean age 16.0 years, SD 1.3) completed survey items relating to their alcohol consumption, sources of alcohol, circumstances of parental supply, and peers' consumption.
Among respondents (response rate 43%), 93% of participants had tried alcohol, 66% had consumed at least a full glass, and 40% had consumed more than four drinks on a single occasion in the preceding month (risky drinking). Risky drinkers obtained alcohol mainly from friends (48%) and parents (19%). After controlling for school year and gender, and adjusting for clustering, parental supply for drinking under ‘other’ supervision (P = 0.004) and with no supervision (P = 0.007), the number of close friends believed to have consumed alcohol in the past month (P < 0.001), and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status (P = 0.02) were all significantly associated with risky drinking.
Parental supply of alcohol for unsupervised drinking is associated with risky drinking among 13- to 17-year-olds. Longitudinal studies would assist in studying the temporal sequence and controlling for confounding.
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