7 Things you might not know about underage drinking


Underage drinking is a serious problem in America.  Here are 7 things you might not know about underage drinking.


  1. Alcohol use among youth has serious repercussions. 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.
  2. A lot of underage drinking goes on. According to data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. Many youth binge drink, consuming four, five, or more drinks at a time.  Data show that 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 29 percent of 12th graders had engaged in binge drinking within the past two weeks. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days, 22 percent binge drank and 8 percent drove after drinking.
  3. Underage drinking is linked to risky behavior. Frequent binge drinkers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, having sex with six or more partners, and earning grades that are mostly Ds and Fs in school .
  4. Underage drinking is linked to alcohol dependence later in life. Research shows that the serious drinking problems typically associated with middle age actually begin to appear much earlier, during young adulthood and even adolescence.  People who reported starting to drink before the age of 15 were four times more likely to also report meeting the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
  5. Drinking before or during puberty can have serious effects on development. Drinking alcohol prior to or during puberty may upset the critical hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs, muscles, and bones. Studies in animals also show that consuming alcohol during puberty adversely affects the maturation of the reproductive system.
  6. Hereditary factors play a large role in determining whether someone will become an underage drinker. Children of those suffering from alcohol dependence are more likely to begin drinking at a young age and more likely to later suffer from alcohol dependence. In fact, Children of those suffering from alcohol dependence are 6 times more likely to suffer from alcohol dependence themselves.
  7. There is a huge need for treatment for youth suffering from alcohol dependence and this need is largely unmet. 1.4 million youth met the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but only 227,000 actually received any treatment for these problems.