How Many Teens Are Drinking?
It’s plastered across billboards, magazine ads, in between TV shows and on city buses — advertisements for alcohol have increased by 400% in the last 40 years. Social media influence has ensured that these ads now reach just about all age groups.
The reality is that — with high school and middle school alcohol statistics proving this — young people are drinking alcohol. And it’s not hard to see why. The legal drinking age in the U.S. is still 21, but teens around the country have little difficulty accessing alcohol — whether from friends, relatives, parties or right from the kitchen when you aren’t home. The scope of underage drinking reflects this popularity and the ease with which young people get their hands on bottles and cans of booze.
Here are some facts about underage drinking in the United States:
- 35% of 15-year-olds have consumed alcohol in their lifetime
- 10% of 8th graders drank some amount of alcohol in the past 30 days
- 35% of high school students drank some amount of alcohol in the past 30 days
- 68% of 12th graders have tried alcohol at least once
- 8.7 million people aged 12–20 consumed alcohol in the past month
- People aged 12–20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed
- 52% of 10th graders believe it’s easy to obtain alcohol
Underage Binge Drinking Stats
On average, a teen drinks more alcohol in a single sitting than adults do. This is a problem known as “binge drinking” (or consuming an excessive amount over a short period of time). This is often the case for a many college underclassmen and a large percentage of high schoolers who drink at parties and social events. The excitement of drinking, mixed with peer pressure and an overabundance of alcoholic beverages, can cause kids to drink excessively and get dangerously inebriated.
High school binge drinking statistics include:
- 1 in 6 teens binge drinks
- Only 1% of parents believe their teen binge drinks
- 21% of high school students binge drank within the past 30 days
- 90% of alcohol consumed by teens involves binge drinking
- 4,300 underage deaths are caused by excessive drinking each year
- 189,000 ER visits in 2010 were related to underage drinking
In 2013, approximately 1.4 million people aged 12–20 engaged in heavy drinking, which is consuming 5 drinks or more on at least 5 occasions over the span of a month.
Underage Drunk Driving Statistics
Among the more harrowing teen drinking stats is how many teenagers die in alcohol-related accidents each year: upwards of 1500. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens, and many are influenced by alcohol.
The list of impairments caused by alcohol intoxication is a long one, including affected motor functions, slowed reaction time, blurry vision and distorted perception.
Alcohol can also cause “blackouts” — a complete unawareness of one’s surroundings or actions. An overly drunk teen may not remember how their night ended. In all too many cases, they wake up in the hospital after a car accident — or don’t wake up at all — and seriously injure unsuspecting passengers, people in other cars, or pedestrians.
Underage drinking and driving facts include:
- Teens drink and drive approximately 2.4 million times a month
- 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes have alcohol in their system
- 85% of high schoolers who drink and drink say they binge drank
- In the past 30 days, 22% of high schoolers rode with a driver who’d been drinking
- Kids who start drinking young are 7 times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash
Other Risks of Teenage Drinking
Death from a car accident, alcohol poisoning or other scenarios related to intoxication (e.g. falls, burns, drowning) is a possibility each time your teen decides to drink. But the spectrum of risks related to underage drinking is extremely wide, and in short, it can impact their young life in just about any way you can imagine.
Along with the significant impact of alcohol on the brain, risks and effects of alcohol on teens include:
- Mental health problems
- Serious injury or other disabilities
- Abuse of other drugs
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Social difficulties
- Being arrested
- Being victims of physical or sexual assault
Problems in school are common in kids who abuse alcohol. High school students who drink are 5 times more likely to drop out of school — if they don’t choose to drop out, falling grades or getting caught with alcohol can end in suspension or expulsion. Even if they remain in school, drinking alcohol will likely cause your teen to lose friends, have relationship issues and possibly become social outcasts.
These problems can easily trickle down into their home life. If your son or daughter struggles with drinking, you may find soon enough that they’re not the same person they once were. Talk about alcohol addiction with them and consider getting them professional help if they need it.
Does Your Teenager Need Alcohol Rehab?
It’s scary to realize that your teen drinks alcohol in any amount. You’ve read the news reports about car accidents, and you’ve seen the teen drinking stats. You know the dangerous effects of alcohol on teens, so don’t ignore the situation if your child shows signs of alcohol addiction. Rather, address the situation as soon as you can by speaking to a recovery specialist.
At TeenRehabCenter.org, we are available to confidentially discuss your family’s situation with you, free of cost. After years of experience in helping families like yours, we’ve found that recovery happens most smoothly when a family is highly involved and invested in teen alcohol rehab.
Don’t turn a blind eye to your teen’s drinking habits — get them the help they need. Start by reaching out to us, and we can help you take it from there.
- Richards, Katie. “Alcohol Ads Increased 400% Over 40 Years, but Americans Aren’t Drinking More.” AdWeek. AdWeek, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
- “Underage Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
- “Underage Drinking Statistics.” MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
- “Teen Driving Crash and Fatality Stats.” Court Info. Administrative Office of the Courts of California, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
- “Teen Drinking and Driving.” CDC. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
- Rubin, Rita. “A Third of Teens Who Drink, Take Drugs Are Addicted.” NBC News. NBCNews.com, 29 June 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
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