Galveston County Daily News (Internet / Print) 07/06/06 People who begin drinking alcohol before or during their teens may face a higher risk of alcohol dependence later in life regardless of other psychological, environmental or family history factors. A comprehensive national study released this week showed that 47 percent of those who began drinking younger than 14 experienced alcohol dependence during their lifetimes, compared to only 9 percent for those who began drinking at age 21. “It’s not surprising that younger drinkers end up with more problems in adulthood,” said Beth Auslander, a psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “They tend to engage in a lot more risky behaviors and have trouble in school. Developmentally, a teen drinking earlier than age 14 exhibits much different behaviors than kids in social groups who may be drinking at age 18.”