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How prevalent is alcohol abuse?

Alcohol is the number one abused substance by teenagers in the United States. It's prevalence in this age group is quite staggering. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse - Columbia University, "underage drinkers account for 11.4% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States."

Some studies done by NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) have shown the following(1)

Prevalence in 8th graders:

  • 51.7% have tried alcohol 
  • 43.1% have had an alcoholic drink in the past year 
  • 25.1% have been drunk 
  • 15.2% have had 1 or more binge drinking episodes

Prevalence in 10th graders: 

  • 70.6% have tried alcohol
  • 63.7% have had an alcoholic drink in the past year 
  • 48.9% have been drunk 
  • 25.6% have had 1 or more binge drinking episodes 
  • 1.9% have been daily drinking for at least 1 month at some point in their lives

Prevalence in 12th graders: 

  • 80% have tried alcohol 
  • 73.8% have had an alcoholic drink in the past year 
  • 62.3% have been drunk 
  • 30.8% binge drank in the past 2 weeks 
  • 3.6% use alcohol daily

From these statistics, you can see how widely abused alcohol really is. Alcohol problems can start at such an early age. For this reason, it is so important to educate our teens early on. Alcohol abuse prevention needs to begin before it can become an issue in their lives.

How does early onset alcohol abuse impact your teens future?

Alcohol abuse can have a lasting impact on your teenager for the rest of their lives. According to a study done by The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), "Persons reporting first use of alcohol before age 15 were more than 5 times as likely to report past year alcohol dependence or abuse than persons who first used alcohol at age 21 or older".(2)

This study also showed that "Only 3 percent of persons who first used alcohol at age 21 or older were classified as having past year alcohol dependence or abuse". This goes to show that keeping your teen away from alcohol until after the legal age limit can have a significant impact on their future alcohol use.

What are some of the consequences of teen alcohol abuse?

Teen alcohol problems create many negative consequences. One of the deadliest outcomes of teenage alcohol abuse is drinking and driving. Car accidents are the leading killer of the 15 to 20 year old age group.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 

  • In 2004, 13.6% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were young drivers age 15 to 20. 
  • For the same year and age group, 29% of the drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking. 
  • In better news, the same study showed that "In 2004, an estimated 906 lives were saved by minimum-drinking-age laws."

Teen alcohol abuse also plays a role in other types of injuries as well as contributing to higher incidences of unwanted or unplanned sex.

  • Number one cause of injury death, the leading cause of death in people under 21. This includes car accidents (drinking and driving), physical fights, homicides, suicides, falls and toxic poisoning to name a few.(1) 
  • Alcohol abuse increases the rate of teen dating violence. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), "Among college students under age 21 alone, 50,000 experience alcohol- related date rape, and 430,000 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking."

Education and prevention of alcohol abuse begins at home and plays such an important role in keeping your teen out of trouble. By keeping an open, honest relationship with your teen, many of these statistics can and should be lowered.

Teen Alcohol Abuse Statistics Sources:

  1.  niaaa.nih.gov 
  2. oas.samhsa.gov/2k4/agedependence/agedependence.htm 
  3. nhtsa.dot.gov
 
 Teen Alcohol Abuse Statistics: Related Pages
 
  • Teen Drug Abuse Statistics
  • Alcohol Abuse Prevention
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