Fake IDs May Fuel Underage Drinking

Underage drinking was fueled by college student use of false identification shows a new study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) To legally buy and drink alcohol, a person must meet a minimum age requirement set by each state. Such laws aim to protect those who are underage from the damage done by drinking alcohol.

A new study concluded that the use of fake IDs by college kids made them more likely to indulge in excessive drinking.

Excessive drinking could potentially lead to car wrecks, sexual violence, alcohol-related health problems, poor academic performance and other problems, the researchers wrote

In this new study, college students under 21 tended to drink less often than their classmates who were of legal alcohol-consumption age, researchers wrote. But when those younger students did drink, they drank larger quantities of liquor.

"Parents - talk to your college kids about responsible drinking."

This study's lead author was Amelia M. Arria, PhD, director of the University of Maryland School of Public Health's Center on Young Adult Health and Development.

Over four years, Dr. Arria and her research team conducted interviews as part of a yearly assessment of drinking patterns among 529 females and 486 males, beginning when these students were college freshmen on a single, mid-Atlantic campus that the researchers did not name. Each student reported that, before entering college, they had consumed alcohol at least once.

During the yearly interviews, the students were asked how many days during the prior year they drank and how many drinks they consumed on those drinking days. They also were asked how often they used a false ID to obtain alcohol.

Of the college students in that sample population, 66.1 percent used false identification at least one time to buy alcohol, the researchers found.

On almost 25 percent of occasions when students drank before they were 21 years old, they used false IDs to get the alcohol, researchers wrote. Some of that consumption took place in nightclubs and bars.

Also, the more frequent users of false IDs tended to have used more drugs and alcohol during high school, to live off-campus during college and to be a member of college fraternity or sorority.

The researchers also found that women used fake IDs more often than men. And whites, who made up more than 75 percent of study participants, used them more than non-whites.

"First, heavy drinkers tend to be more likely to obtain and use a false ID," Dr. Arria said. "Second, false ID use appears to contribute to further increases in how much and how often a student drinks. In our sample, we found a clear pathway from more frequent false ID use to more frequent drinking, which led to greater risk for developing alcohol dependence."

According to the authors of this study, it's been shown that parents who are aware of the hazards of youthful alcohol consumption, who discuss those hazards with their children and who monitor their children's possible alcohol consumption are key to curbing abuse. The authors encourage parents to be mindful of alcohol consumption by their children.

"Because false ID use increases access to alcohol for underage drinkers and facilitates more drinking opportunities," the researchers wrote, "heightened enforcement of sanctions against manufacturers or suppliers, confiscation of false IDs, and enforcing sanctions against underage individuals who use them might be warranted."

This study was published online October 17 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study. The researchers did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 17, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013