The association between age at first use of alcohol and alcohol consumption levels among adult general drinking population
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Aim: The goal of the study was to investigate the association between age at first alcohol use and current levels of alcohol consumption among the adult Australian general drinking population. Subject and methods: A retrospective cohort study was performed using self-report data collected by the 2004 and 2007 Australian National Drug Strategy Household surveys. Participants were selected using a multi-stage, stratified-area, random sample design. Male and female participants aged 20–49 years at the time of the survey, who were current drinkers and consumed their first full serve of alcohol before the age of 25 years, were included in this study. Poisson regression models (with robust estimations of variance) were used to explore associations between age when a full serve of alcohol was first consumed and relative likelihood of consuming alcohol above low risk levels at the time of survey, while adjusting for a number of potential confounders. Results: Younger age at first use of alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of consuming alcohol at levels associated with increased risk of long- and short-term harms in adulthood, even among a subsample of participants with good mental health status as measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. Conclusion: Younger age at first use of alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of high level alcohol use in adulthood. Effective strategies to delay onset of alcohol use are needed in order to reduce the future prevalence of high risk drinking adults.
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