Teen Issues

By Hayden Kirby

Underage Drinking

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States.


  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,200 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.
  • Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinking.
  • On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.
  • In 2010, there were approximately 188,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.

Drinking Levels Among Youth

The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 36% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 22% binge drank.
  • 11% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 23% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
  • In 2013, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 25% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 15% reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • In 2013, reported that 28% of 8th graders and 69% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 10% of 8th graders and 40% of 12th graders drank during the past month.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:



  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor grades.
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • Legal problems, such as being arrested for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
  • Physical and sexual assault.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • Memory problems.
  • Abuse of other drugs.
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
  • Death from alcohol poisoning.


In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who dont.

Underage Drinking
Parents Empowered -- Full
Hang Glider - Underage Drinking

Teen Pregnancy

  • In 2013, a total of 273,000 babies were born to women age 15–19 years, for a live birth rate of 26 per 1,000 women in this group. This is a record low for U.S. teens in this age group, and a drop of 10% from 2012.
  • Teen pregnancies are largely unplanned, with 82% of these births being accidental, teen pregnancy counts for 20% of unplanned births
  • Few teens get pregnant before the age of 15: in 2010, 5.4 pregnancies occurred per 1,000 teens age 14 or under. Fewer than 1% of teens younger than 15 become pregnant each year
  • 14% of teen pregnancies end with miscarriage, with 9% being fault on the mothers end
  • Out of all teenage pregnancies, 26% are ended by abortion, down from 30% a decade ago.
  • Teenage mothers today are more likely to finish high school or earn their GEDs , pregnant teens are less likely to attend college also
  • The US teenage pregnancy rate is more than twice as high as rates in Canada
  • The decline in teen pregnancy rates is due primarily to teens’ improved contraceptive use.

  • Three out of ten teenage girls in the United States get pregnant at least once before age 20.

  • Most teens never consider how one decision such as this will change the world you live in forever.

Teen Pregnancy Statistics

Teen Drug Use


  • In 2013, more high school seniors regularly used marijuana than cigarettes as 23% smoked pot in the last month, compared to 15% who smoked cigarettes.
  • 62% of seniors don't see regular marijuana use as harmful
  • 1/3 of teenagers who live in states with medical marijuana laws get their pot from other people's prescriptions.
  • More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin/cocaine combined
  • Adderall use (often prescribed to treat ADHD) has increased among high school seniors from 5.4% in 2009 to 7.5% this year.

  • 50% of high school seniors do not think regular steroid use is harmful
  • By the 8th grade, 30% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 17% have used marijuana.
  • The United States represents 5% of the world's population and 75% of prescription drugs taken. 60% of teens receive from friends
  • 9% of high school seniors smoke pot daily, up from 5% five years ago. Meanwhile, less than 20% of 12th graders think occasional use is harmful, while less than 40% see regular use as harmful.
  • About 50% of high school seniors do not think it's harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice and 40% believe it's not harmful to use heroin once or twice.

Pediatric Nursing Certification Exam - Teens and Drug Use