A new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors examined longitudinal associations between high school sports participation and alcohol use.
The author’s two key conclusions were:
- Team sports act as a risk factor for less severe alcohol use among middle adolescents, and
- Individual sports act as a protective factor for more severe types of alcohol use during adolescence and beyond.
These results highlight the divergent effects sports may play on youth alcohol use.
For younger adolescents, team sports may be a risk factor for alcohol use, indicating the need for alcohol and perhaps other substance use prevention among these youths.
On the other hand, individual sports may help to protect older adolescents and young adults from more harmful alcohol consumption, and thus could be considered a possible prevention strategy against harmful alcohol use for these youths.
Because of the epidemic of youth obesity and general lack of physical activity among America’s youth, physical activity, exercise and sports of all types, along with healthy nutrition, should be encouraged and supported by all youth services providers as critical physical and mental health-promoting habits for all youth.
Certain types of sports, including team sport as indicated by this study, should however necessarily include an evidence-based alcohol and drug use prevention component so that youth can benefit from the physical activity aspects of the sport and yet be ensured of being protected from any possible substance use risks.
Read the study abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030646031730391X
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