Talk it Out NC Announces Results of ‘2023 State of Underage Drinking’

Survey reveals teens getting the message when parents talk about the dangers of underage drinking — but parents aren’t talking often enough.


RALEIGH, N.C. – (August 8, 2023) – Talk it Out NC, North Carolina ABC Commission’s statewide initiative to prevent underage drinking, releases findings of the 2023 State of Underage Drinking. The survey of more than 800 parents and students ages 11-18 is a snapshot of the current attitudes, opinions, and behaviors related to underage drinking in North Carolina — from the influences of friends and social media to those at home. 

Results from the 2023 State of Underage Drinking survey show new target areas for improvement, including the need for parents to have conversations more often with their children about the dangers of underage drinking, along with hopeful news that when parents do have these crucial conversations — they can be the key to positive outcomes in young people’s lives. The survey data can also help shape other parental, community, and governmental responses to underage drinking in North Carolina.


Key takeaways from the 2023 State of Underage Drinking North Carolina survey:  

1. Parents are waiting too long to start conversations with their children about the dangers of underage drinking.

    • On average, parents are first having conversations about alcohol at age 11, three years past the age Talk it Out NC recommends (age 8).  
    • Only 19% of parents think starting these conversations by age 8 is appropriate. 
    • 51% of parents would wait until their children are age 12 or older to start having conversations about alcohol. 

2. Parents could be the biggest factor to help prevent underage drinking, because alcohol is introduced to young people’s lives earlier than parents might think. 

    • 56% of students are embarrassed or afraid to talk to their parents about alcohol and underage drinking.  
    • 93% of students think it would help stop underage drinking if parents talked more to their children about alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking. 
    • 58% of middle school students are trying alcohol, an increase of 22% compared to a similar study completed in 2017.

3. Social media, mental health, and negative alcohol-related trends are among the factors that influence underage drinking habits.

    • Students are normalizing underage drinking by posting on social media with alcohol. 41% of students’ friends are posting on social media with alcohol, including 12% who are doing it “often.” 
    • Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) of students say they have turned to alcohol to feel better as a coping mechanism.  
    • 48% of students say when people their age drink alcohol, they are likely to drink enough to pass out.


“What we see from the data in our 2023 State of Underage Drinking survey is that parents really do make an impact. Parents might not always feel like their children are listening, but the data shows teens are looking for positive guidance,” said Burna Mattocks, Director of Education Community Outreach for the North Carolina ABC Commission’s Talk it Out NC campaign. “We always say, ‘talk early and talk often about underage drinking,’ because it can happen earlier than many parents may think. To help parents, Talk it Out NC has a variety of resources on our website to Start the Conversation about underage drinking and the negative effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain.” 

Talk it Out NC is a campaign of the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to prevent underage alcohol consumption in North Carolina. By promoting open communication between parents and children and sharing facts about underage drinking, they aim to prevent underage alcohol use and misuse across the state. Talk it Out NC provides a variety of resources to parents and mentors as well as regular virtual and in-person events. 

The 2023 State of Underage Drinking survey was conducted in partnership with Talk it Out NC, 919 Marketing, and McLaughlin & Associates. Surveys were completed online by 505 North Carolina parents and 306 students in middle and high school in May 2023. 

For more information and to see the complete 2023 State of Underage Drinking survey results, visit