The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recorded that there were 9.7 million Americans who were underage drinkers. Most teens don’t wait until age 21 to take their first drink. Sometimes encouraged by friends or family members, they may make it a dangerous habit. The younger they begin drinking, the more dependent they can become on alcohol throughout their later years of life, risking injury to themselves and others, brain impairment and multiple health problems.
Teens Binge Drink More Often Than Adults
Compared to adults, underage drinkers do not drink alcohol as frequently; however, teens drink more heavily (and more recklessly) when they consume alcohol. According to NSDUH, 6.1 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 engage in binge drinking. Monthly, these teens consume a minimum of five alcoholic drinks in one occasion. Approximately 1.7 million teens drink even more heavily when they consume alcohol and have these binge-drinking episodes a minimum of five times each month.
When someone engages in binge drinking at a party or in the cover of someone’s house, they have to find a way back home. Many times those teens risk driving while intoxicated.
Risky Behavior And Underage Drinking
Underage drinking is involved in about 5,000 deaths each year. Too many teens think they can drive home safely after drinking, but half of the deaths from drunken driving end up taking the lives of other automobile passengers. Other teens have committed murder or suicide while intoxicated. Some lost their lives from alcohol poisoning, drowning and falls.
Other underage drinkers, spared from tragic accidents, may suffer serious injuries after drinking too much alcohol. In 2008, over 190,000 teens spent time in an emergency room for abusing alcohol.
Mistakes Parents Make With Their Teens And Alcohol
Some parents mistakenly think that allowing their teen and their teen’s friends to consume alcohol at home will keep them from drinking and driving and getting in trouble with alcohol. This well-meaning act does not usually work. Statistics show that teens who are allowed to indulge in drinking at home are more likely to drink outside the home than other teens.
The younger teens are when they take their first drink, the more likely they are to have a dependence on alcohol as they age. If they are 14 years or younger when they begin drinking alcohol, they have a 30 percent greater chance of developing an alcohol dependence than someone who waits until the legal age of 21.
Seventy percent of America’s young adults have their first alcoholic drink before age 18. Growing older only adds to the greater opportunities they will have for indulging in more alcoholic drinks. The later in life they take that first sip the better.