Many more young people use alcohol than tobacco or illegal drugs. By age 18, more than 70% of teens have had at least one drink.
Teens drink less often than adults. But when teens do drink, they drink more than adults. On average, young people have about 5 drinks on a single occasion. This is called binge drinking, a very dangerous way of drinking that can lead to serious problems and even death.
Of adults who started drinking before age 15, around 40% say they have the signs of alcohol dependence. That rate is four times higher than for adults who didn’t drink until they were age 21.
Rates of death and injury nearly triple between the early teen years and early adult life. Dangerous activities like underage drinking play a large role. That’s why ending teen alcohol use can help save lives.
The teen years are a time of adventure, challenges, and taking risks. Alcohol is often one of the risks young people take. But most people don’t know how alcohol affects a teen’s body and behavior. They don’t realize that alcohol can affect young people in different ways from adults. And they don’t realize that underage drinkers can also harm people other than themselves.