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Alcohol Facts & Resources

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. As teenagers mature, it is natural for them to assert their independence, and that often turns into seeking new challenges and taking more risks. Many teens want to try alcohol but may not fully recognize the negative effects on their health and behavior. Additionally, many teens drink due to peer pressure, a need to relieve stress or relax, a desire to feel more grown up, to rebel, or out of curiosity.

According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2014, 22.8% of underage people (ages 12-20) were current alcohol users, 13.8% were binge drinkers, and 3.4% were heavy alcohol users.

From National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

“Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. When young people try alcohol, they often don’t realize the damaging effects drinking can have on their own lives, their families, and their communities. Aside from being illegal, underage drinking is a widespread public health problem that poses many risks.”

Facts about Underage Drinking:

  • According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 35.1% of 15-year-olds report that they have had at least one drink in their lives. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
  • Most kids who consume alcohol do so at home or in the home of a friend. (Talk 2 Prevent)
  • A teen who begins drinking at the age of 15 is seven times more likely to have an alcohol abuse problem later in life than someone who waits until the age of 21 to start drinking. (Talk 2 Prevent)
  • Underage drinkers are 24% more likely to use illicit drugs after drinking than persons over the age of 21. (Bradford Health Services)
  • Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this is consumed in the form of binge drinks. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Having the minimum legal drinking age set at 21 saves lives and protects health. In the mid-1980s, when all 50 states adopted the legal drinking age as age 21, there was a 16% median decline in motor vehicle crashes. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Research shows that alcohol abuse during the teenage years negatively impacts the memory center of the brain (the hippocampus) and may also disrupt the development of the adolescent brain in unhealthy ways, making it harder for teens to cope with social situations and the normal pressures of life. (Partnership for Drug Free Kids)



The physical & mental effects of alcohol, via Business Insider:

Resources to learn more about Underage Drinking:

Centers for Disease Control – Underage Drinking Fact Sheet

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – Underage Drinking

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2014

New York State – Talk 2 Prevent

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – Underage Drinking: What You Should Know – Answering Your Child’s Tough Questions about Alcohol


Related Pelham PACT Events and Resources:

Talk About It: Alcohol, Adults, Holiday Parties and Teens

In 2015, More Pelham Students Are Substance-Free

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