5 Surprising Facts About Underage Drinking

Ask any high school teacher or guidance counselor about underage drinking and you’ll discover that the underage drinking statistics can be pretty disturbing. Parents may be quick to point out good grades or sports performance as evidence of “not my kid,” but the facts regarding underage drinking statistics indicate that, indeed, many teens are drinking much more and more often than their parents realize.

  • Adolescents (people between the ages of 12 and 20) consume 11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States.
  • More than half of American teenagers (approximately 65%) have tried drinking at least once before reaching age 18.
  • When teens engage in drinking behavior, approximately 90% of the alcohol they drink is consumed during a binge drinking episode. This means teens are much more likely to engage in binge drinking than adult drinkers. A binge is defined as drinking enough alcohol within a short period of time (usually about two hours) so that blood-alcohol concentration reaches the .08 g/dL. For younger adolescents (ages 12 to 13), three drinks is enough to be defined as a binge. For 14- to 15-year-olds, four drinks is defined as a binge, and for teens 16 to 17, five drinks is typically a binge.
  • Teens who report drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop serious alcohol dependence issues later in life than those who waited until the legal drinking age of 21 to begin drinking.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 4,000 teens die each year due to underage drinking (either directly via alcohol overdose, suicide or indirectly due to accidents or violence).

Understanding the causes of underage drinking can help guide prevention efforts and alcoholism treatment. Education, both for teens and their caregivers, is a great first step. Becoming familiar with underage drinking statistics can help teens and those who love them to better understand the scope of this problem and work to reverse these trends. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statisticshttps://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htmhttps://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm

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