Alcohol and Other Drugs:
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who start consuming alcohol before the age of 15 are four times as likely to become alcohol dependent as those who do not start until they are 21. Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to abuse alcohol than those who begin drinking at age 21. Additionally, youth who started drinking before age 15, compared to those who waited until they were 21, were 12 times more likely to be unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol, seven times more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash after drinking, and 10 times more likely to have been in a physical fight after drinking.
Underage alcohol use is directly related to criminal behavior and serious social and health problems such as:
- Suicide and homicide
- Traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities
- Unprotected or unwanted sex, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS
- Physical and sexual assaults
- Withdrawal, depression and emotional/psychological difficulties
- School delinquency, failure and dropout
Resources for Reducing Underage Drinking
- Underage drinking—CDC: Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.
- Quick Facts About Young People’s Access to Alcohol: Where and how do young people get alcohol? Get an overview of the issues regarding underage youth access to alcohol.
- Policies to Reduce Youth Access to Alcohol: Extensive information on strategies and policies to address social access to alcohol, commercial access to alcohol and alcohol advertising. Also find out what community institutions can do, such as civic groups, faith organizations, hotels and motels, parents, police, schools and worksites.
- What Colleges Can Do: Find suggestions for what colleges can do to reduce problems associated with underage youth access to alcohol.
- How Local Ordinances Affect Flow of Alcohol to Underage Drinkers: See how alcohol can flow from licensed establishments and individuals over age 21 to underage youth, and the role local ordinances can play in reducing underage youth access to alcohol.
- Model Alcohol Ordinances to Reduce the Supply of Alcohol to Youth Under Age 21: These ordinances include policies that reduce social access to alcohol, encourage responsible selling and serving, and improve the social environment.
- Underage drinking laws—Office of Traffic Safety