6 Teenage Alcohol Misuse Statistics: The Shocking Reality

A mug of alcohol in a dark room.
A mug of beer in a dimly lit room.

Alcohol misuse is a problem across all walks of life, but underage teens are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of drinking alcohol. At this impressionable age, teens are more likely to fall victim to peer pressure. Furthermore, they are often uneducated about the effect alcohol has on their minds and bodies. They rely on the limited information of their peers and often disregard the conversations they may have had with authority figures about the dangers of underage drinking.

Under the effects of alcohol, teens are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual encounters, jeopardize their physical wellbeing through risky behavior, and fall deeper down the rabbit hole of problematic relationships with drugs and alcohol in the future.

The following are six shocking statistics about teenage alcohol misuse, and some tips for parents on how to start the conversation with their children to prevent alcohol misuse in their family.

1. 61% Say Friends Influence Underage Drinking the Most

According to research conducted by the North Carolina ABC Commission, 61 percent of students answered that peers and friends are the greatest source of influence on the decision to partake in underage drinking.

Discussed in a previous article, peer pressure is a powerful dynamic that occurs in everyone’s life, but is particularly concerning when children and teens are in the most impressionable stage of their lives. Parents play a role in influencing their child’s behavior as well, but they should be mindful of their child’s friends’ behavior and their susceptibility to peer pressure.

2. 14.4% of 12- to 20-Year-Olds Binge Drank Last Month

Research on teenage alcohol misuse, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in June of 2017, found that 14.4 percent of all 12- to 20-year-olds in the nation engaged in binge drinking in the previous month.

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a time-sensitive pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood (or 210 liters of breath) and above.

3. Excessive Underage Drinking Results in More than 4,300 Deaths Each Year

According to research by the Center for Disease Control, excessive drinking behavior results in more than 4,300 deaths of underage people every year. Not everyone who drinks does so at heavy levels, but when underage people drink, they are more likely to engage in binge drinking.

4. 11% of All Alcohol is Consumed by People Aged 12 to 20

Even though alcohol sales are prohibited to anyone under the age of 21, a staggering 11 percent of all alcoholic beverages in the United States are consumed by underaged people, ranging from 12 to 20 years old. The same report by the CDC reveals that despite these surprising numbers, the majority of underage children actually do not drink at all or do so infrequently.

5. 29.8% of High School Students Drank in Past 30 Days

The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey concluded that within the past 30 days of the survey taking place, 29.8 percent of high school students surveyed reported they had at least one alcoholic drink. As underage alcohol misuse statistics show, those that choose to drink underage are more likely to experience memory issues, mental development stagnation, and problems at school.

6. 119,000 Emergency Room Visits Related to Alcohol by Underaged People in 2013

In 2013 alone, an estimated over 100,000 underage people were admitted to emergency departments across the United States specifically for alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. While the vast majority of these visits were likely not fatal, they should be considered avoidable expenses and hardships for everyone involved.

Parents Play a Part in Lowering Teenage Alcohol Misuse Statistics

Talk it Out NC encourages parents to Start the Conversation with their children about underage drinking. By Taking the Pledge with their children, parents and guardians affirm their commitment to ending underage drinking. Starting with their immediate family, parents can contribute to lowering teenage alcohol misuse rates by keeping their kids aware of the dangers and empowered with the knowledge of healthy choices.

The sooner children and teens are educated about the dangers of underage drinking, the better chances they stand in resisting peer pressure, engaging in risky behavior, and developing issues with alcohol misuse later in life.