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Alcohol Use in Teenagers

Alcohol use in teenagers

    • Experimentation with alcohol during the teen years is common. In fact, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, almost 80% of high school students have tried alcohol.
    • According to research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, adolescents who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
      • In 2003, 31 percent of drivers age 15 to 20 who died in traffic accidents had been drinking alcohol.


    • According to the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, which includes almost 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students in about 400 public and private schools, the use of alcoholic beverages has generally been in decline among American teens for the last several years, and that decline continued in all three grades in 2005.

What are the health effects of drinking alcohol?

    • Alcohol impairs the judgment and coordination required to drive a car or operate machinery safely.
      • Alcohol can also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including domestic violence and child abuse.


    • Too much alcohol intake can lead to dizziness, slurred speech, disturbed sleep, nausea, and vomiting.
    • Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time or very rapidly can cause alcohol poisoning, which usually starts with vomiting which leads to unconsciousness and difficulty breathing then possibly low blood sugar, seizures, coma and even death.

Long-term Effects

Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can lead to addiction (alcoholism).

Sudden cessation of long term, extensive alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.

Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol can lead to:
• permanent damage to vital organs
• several different types of cancer
• gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea and ulcers
• malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
• sexual dysfunctions
• high blood pressure
• lowered resistance to disease

How can you tell if a friend has a drinking problem?

  • If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:
  • Getting drunk on a regular basis
  • Lying about how much alcohol he or she is using
  • Believing that alcohol is necessary to have fun
  • Having frequent hangovers
  • Feeling run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Having “blackouts”–forgetting what he or she did while drinking

What can you do to help someone who has a drinking problem?

The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service provides a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), offering various resource information. Through this service you can speak directly to a representative concerning substance abuse treatment, request printed material on alcohol or other drugs, or obtain local substance abuse treatment referral information in your State.

Other Resources:

Fact sheets and information on specific drugs for teens and adults

The Partnership for a Drug-free America

American Council for Drug Education

National Children’s Coalition
Alcohol and other drug information for teens

This is a support group for family members and friends of alcoholics.
(888) 4AL-ANON