Fact Sheets - Underage Drinking
Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.
Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs, and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth.
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 alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.
In 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.
In 2012 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 24% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 15% reported binge drinking.
In 2013, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 28% of 8th graders and 68% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 10% of 8th graders and 39% of 12th graders drank during the past month.
Consequences of Underage Drinking
Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
Physical and sexual assault.
Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
Abuse of other drugs.
Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
Death from alcohol poisoning.