The Underage Drinking Rates in America

As many should know, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Though progress is being made, underage drinking remains a persistent problem. According to the 2017 NSDUH, about 7.4 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents nearly 20% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal.

Recent reports from the CDC also show that excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers do. In 2013, there were approximately 119,000 emergency rooms visits by persons aged 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. Over the years, underage drinking has shown to be a major issue still and addiction follows with many of these cases.

Drinking Levels among Teens

The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 30% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 14% binge drank.
  • 6% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Effects of Underage Drinking

Youth who take part in alcohol abuse experiences issues like:

  • School problems, such as multiple absences and poor or failing grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities
  • Legal problems
  • Physical and sexual assault.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide
  • Alcohol-related car crashes
  • Abuse of other drugs
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects
  • Death from alcohol poisoning

Overall, the risk of adolescents experiencing these problems is greater for those who partake in alcohol abuse than for those who do not drink. It is also important to note that early initiation of drinking is associated with the development of an alcohol-use disorder later in life.

Prevention of Underage Drinking

Reducing the rates of underage drinking will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease access that the youth has to alcohol.

Recent publications from the Surgeon General and the Institute of Medicine outlined many prevention strategies for the consumption of underage drinking, such as:

  • Enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws,
  • national media campaigns targeting youth and adults,
  • increasing alcohol excise taxes,
  • reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising,
  • and development of comprehensive community-based programs.

Drinking should not be set as a standard or a go-to for the youth in the United States. Many teens and young adults can get addicted to alcohol very easily and underage drinking only ensures the harmful effects that alcohol can do to the body. If you or anyone you know is dealing with addiction from alcohol, contact us today.

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