Facts About Alcohol Use Among Teens

Alcohol use among teens is a common problem that parents must acknowledge when their children become tweens and teens. Parents can be proactive and discuss drinking with their kids when they are around 12 to better educate them about the risks and dangers of drinking.

Unfortunately, only a few parents take the time to have this conversation with their kids. Instead, most parents consider experimenting with alcohol as a rite of passage that all teens go through. They view it as part of becoming an adult and their teen having to make responsible decisions. However, taking a backseat to your teen’s drinking could result in them developing a substance abuse disorder. 

How Common Is Alcohol Use Among Teens?

According to research data collected by the CDC, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among teenagers.1 Most teenagers have easy access to alcohol because their parents drink and keep alcohol in the home. 

Other ways that teens gain access to alcohol could include:

  • They have friends that work in stores that sell alcohol and help them obtain it.
  • They know of stores that sell alcohol to teens.
  • They have an older sibling of legal drinking age that buys alcohol for them.
  • Their parents provide alcohol to them to encourage them to drink at home, where their drinking can be supervised. 

Alcohol Use Among Teens Statistics

Parents should be aware that national survey data reported to the CDC found that approximately 29% of teenagers drink alcohol at least once a month, if not more often. Out of those teens, 14% binge drank regularly. Binge drinking is consuming between 4 and 5 drinks in a one to two-hour period.

Other survey data about alcohol use among teens parents should be concerned about include:

  • 19% of teens drink alcohol regularly. 
  • 5% of 8th graders binge drink regularly.
  • 17% of high school students binge drink regularly.
  • 10% of 8th graders drink alcohol at least once a month.
  • 34% of high schoolers drink alcohol at least once a month.
  • 7 million teens drink more than just a few sips of alcohol
  • In 2019, around 414,000 teens were addicted to alcohol. 
  • 24.6% of 14- and 15-year-olds have at least 1 drink monthly.1,2

In addition, teens that start drinking alcohol before the age of 14 are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol that will continue into adulthood if it is not treated. 

Age of First Use

In recent years, data collected by the CDC and the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) have seen a trend where the average age of alcohol use among teens is decreasing. In the past, the average age was 13 or 14 for boys and 14 or 15 for girls. However, recent data shows that boys as young as 11 are taking their first drink, and girls are now experimenting with alcohol when they are 12.

Gateway to Other Substances

Parents should equally be concerned about their teen’s alcohol use because it is often a gateway to abusing other substances. Many teens who drink alcohol regularly are more likely to smoke cigarettes, vape, and try other illicit substances, such as marijuana, heroin, and prescription pain relievers and stimulants. 

Effects of Alcohol on Teenagers’ Brains

Brain development is in a vital stage during the teen years that continues to around age 25. The effects of alcohol on brain development can cause it to be altered, leading to underdevelopment. 

Therefore, the part of the brain that does develop results in teens engaging in more irrational and impulsive behaviors because the region of the brain where rational thinking and decision-making occurs is not developing. 

As a result, teens are more likely to engage in riskier behaviors, including having unprotected sex with multiple partners while under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, teenagers who abuse alcohol are more likely to assault another sexually or be a sexual assault victim. 

In addition, many teenagers can experience problems with depression, have suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm behaviors the longer they abuse alcohol. Additionally, physical and mental development, including sexual development, can be disrupted that could have long-term effects. 

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Teens

When parents suspect alcohol use among their teens, they need to address the problem rather than ignore it. Hoping it is just a phase your teenager will grow out of is never the best solution. By allowing them to continue to drink and abuse alcohol, you enable their drinking, which could lead to them abusing other substances. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Teens in Atlanta

Parents who are looking for a caring, safe, and supportive environment for their teens to get help with their alcohol abuse disorder can find help at Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta. We provide access to customized alcohol addiction treatment options for teenagers at our luxury rehab center.
Please feel free to contact us by calling 908-489-5564 to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs for teenagers today!