Underage Drinking

How It Effects Today's Students

Underage drinking is when anyone under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 drinks alcohol. Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. When young people try alcohol, they often don’t realize the damaging effects drinking can have on their own lives, their families, and their communities.

Underage drinking is widespread

In 2009, about 10.4 million young people between ages 12 and 20 drank more than “just a few sips” of alcohol.As kids get older, they drink more.  By age 15, half of teens have had at least one drink. By age 18, more than 70% of teens have had at least one drink.

Brain Effects

Scientists currently are examining just how alcohol affects the developing brain, but it’s a difficult task. Subtle changes in the brain may be difficult to detect but still have a significant impact on long-term thinking and memory skills. Add to this the fact that adolescent brains are still maturing, and the study of alcohol’s effects becomes even more complex. Research has shown that animals fed alcohol during this critical developmental stage continue to show long-lasting impairment from alcohol as they age. It’s simply not known how alcohol will affect the long-term memory and learning skills of people who began drinking heavily as adolescents.