Alcohol and Teens

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.1 Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs1, and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth2.


Need to know

Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings (1–5).


The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey6 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 39% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 22% binge drank.
  • 8% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 24% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol

Nearly 9 million youths, ages 12 to 20, in this country report they have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. The rate of current alcohol consumption increases with increasing age according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1% at age 12 to 15% at age 16, and 39% at age 20.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

-Disruption of normal growth and sexual development

-Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

  • -Death from alcohol poisoning.
  • -Memory problems
  • -Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • -Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
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