Facts About Alcohol

Underage Drinking & Binge Drinking

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States.
  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.
  • Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years old drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States, and more than 90% is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
  • Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08 grams (g/dL) or more. This happens when men consume five or more drinks, or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

  • Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
    • School problems, such as higher absence and poor/failing grades
    • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities
    • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk
    • 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 (i.e. burns, falls, drowning)
    • Memory problems
    • Abuse of other drugs
    • Changes in brain development with potential life-long effects
    • Death from alcohol poisoning

Tips for Parents: How to Tell If Your Child is Consuming Alcohol: 

  • Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability, and defensiveness
  • School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
  • Rebellion against family rules
  • Friend changes: switching friends and a reluctance to let you get to know the new friends
  • A “nothing matters” attitude: sloppy appearance, a lack of involvement in former interests, and general low energy
  • Alcohol presence: finding it in your child’s room or backpack, smelling alcohol on his or her breath
  • Physical or mental problems: memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech