Underage Drinking National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

Binge drinking is also a prevalent issue among teens, and a 2017 Youth Behavior Risk Surveillance System shows a reported ⅓ of seniors in high school had abused alcohol in the previous 30 days. Adolescents and young adults who are frequent or heavy drinkers are more likely to be involved in assaults and risky sexual activity. Approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. In addition, teenagers who are drinking or using drugs frequently fail to use protection during sexual contact. This could put them at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. In a report released in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14% of surveyed high school students engaged in binge drinking in the previous month.

  • The prefrontal cortexes in teenagers who drink are smaller than those of individuals in the same age group who don’t consume alcohol.
  • It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober.
  • Common problems caused by teenage drinking include fighting and aggression, sexual assaults, and vehicular accidents.
  • Before age 9, children generally view alcohol negatively and see drinking
    as bad, with adverse effects.
  • They should also be taught to never get into a car with a drunk driver.
  • Reaction times are slowed dramatically — which is why people are told not to drink and drive.

The problem that most parents encounter when their child develops an addiction to alcohol as a teenager is that they can’t differentiate between helping their teen and enabling them. The difference between these two concepts is greatly influential on the situation. To help a child, the parents must engage in activity that demonstrably pulls the teen away from their alcohol abuse and moves them into recovery. Since teenagers are notoriously hard to read, it is often difficult for parents to identify alcohol use disorders at first.

Do Adolescents Drink, What Are the Risks, and How Can Underage Drinking Be Prevented?

During these years, the pleasure centers of their brains mature faster than the parts of their brains responsible for making good judgments. Adolescents who are heavy drinkers may also be prone to brain damage later in their lives. For youth in the first stage of alcohol use (having access but not having yet used alcohol), preventive measures are used. Therefore, healthcare professionals recommend limiting access to alcohol or other drugs, sober house addressing any risk factors of the youth or family, as well as optimal parental supervision and expression regarding expectations. However, medical professionals have not approved any of these medications to treat alcoholism in people less than 18 years of age. There are studies to indicate that medications that treat seizures, like gabapentin (Neurontin) and topiramate (Topamax), can help reduce drinking in individuals with alcoholism.

  • Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry.
  • Studies show that people drinking alcohol before reaching the legal age (21 in the United States) are at greater risk of suffering alcohol abuse disorder.
  • Some teens may resort to excessive drinking because they have trouble dealing with the stressors in their lives.
  • One of the most telling signs of teenage alcohol abuse is a direct link between drinking and a teen’s emotional state.
  • As we grow from infancy to adulthood, the brain begins developing in the back and moves toward the front.

Environmental factors, such as the
influence of parents and peers, also play a role in alcohol use (44). For example,
parents who drink more and who view drinking favorably may have children who drink
more, and an adolescent girl with an older or adult boyfriend is more likely to
use alcohol and other drugs and to engage in delinquent behaviors (45). In 2021, among adolescents ages 12 to 14 who reported drinking alcohol in the past month, 99.7% reported getting it for free the last time they drank.15 In many cases, adolescents have access to alcohol through family members or find it at home. People ages 12 to 20 drink 3.4% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.4 Although youth drink less often than adults, when they do drink, they drink more. More than 90% of all alcohol drinks consumed by youth are consumed through binge drinking5 (see the “What Is Binge Drinking?” box). Among 8th, 10th and 12th graders combined binge drinking remained unchanged, with less than seven percent reporting they have engaged in this level of harmful consumption.

If you’re a teen with a problem

Although teen alcohol use has decreased in recent years, alcohol is still the most commonly abused drug among adolescents. Therefore, knowing the signs of alcoholism is essential for parents, teachers, and anyone who works with teens. Family-Based
Prevention Programs—Parents’ ability to influence whether
their children drink is well documented and is consistent across racial/ethnic
groups (67,68).

However, research suggests that teen alcohol abuse can be an important problem. In general, the younger a person is when they start drinking, the more at risk they are of alcoholism. Studies show that teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are at a higher risk of alcohol abuse than people who start drinking at older ages.

What Is Alcohol?

This can lead them to do things that are at best embarrassing, at worst life-threatening to themselves or others. Teen drinkers also are more likely to get fat or have health problems. One study found that people who regularly had 5 or more drinks in a row starting at age 13 were much more likely to be overweight or have high blood pressure by age 24 than their nondrinking peers. People who continue drinking heavily well into adulthood risk damaging their organs, such as the liver, heart, and brain. From a very young age, kids see advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life — and alcohol.

How old is the youngest alcoholic?

The two-year-old, also known as 'Little Winebibber,' has been dubbed the world's youngest alcoholic. Cheng Cheng's first time on the juice was at just 10-months-old when wine was the only thing that could silence his persistent cries.

Making sure alcohol is not easily accessible can also help to avoid alcohol problems in teens. Most importantly, playing an active role in child’s life by knowing their friends, participating in healthy and fun family activities, and having conversations about life in general can limit the risk for teenage alcoholism. According to the 2022 Monitoring the Future study, alcohol consumption among America’s teens is holding steady at or below pre-pandemic prevalence rates. Lifetime, annual, current, and binge drinking prevalence rates showed little or no change from 2020 to 2022, after unprecedented declines in 2021, among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, but all rates are significantly lower than peak years. But there are several factors that could aggravate the risk of developing this disease. Teenagers are sometimes impulsive because their brains are not developed enough to control their urges.

According to the 2022 Monitoring the Future study the proportion of students reporting they have been drunk in the past 30-days remained steady. The rate of current alcohol consumption increases with increasing age according to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from almost 1% among year olds to nearly 17% at ages 16-17, and almost 32% among year olds. If you suspect your teen is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, Safe Landing is here to help.

In the 2018 study, she and her colleagues looked at how the frequency of adolescent drunkenness changed as a function of the frequency of peer drunkenness, in a sample of 1,439 adolescents. They found that the adolescents reported being drunk more frequently when their friends, and their romantic partners’ friends, were drunk more frequently. It’s a pretty safe bet that most of our children, in high school and in college, will be in social situations in which people drink in unwise and sometimes downright dangerous ways. At The Recovery Village, we are available to confidentially discuss your family’s situation with you, free of charge and with no obligation.