New Statistics on Underage Drinking

Though some parents believe that underage drinking isn’t a big problem or that there is nothing they can do to make it go away, current data has revealed startling new facts in regards to the problem’s growth and effects. Below are just a few of the recent findings.

Brain Development Statistics

  • Fifteen to sixteen year olds in treatment for alcohol dependence perform more poorly on tests of memory and attention than healthy control subjects.
  • Cognitive impairments have been detected in adolescent alcohol abusers weeks after they stop drinking.
  • Adolescents might be able to stay awake and mobile at higher blood alcohol levels than their adult counterparts, all the while being more vulnerable to alcohol-induced cognitive impairments and, perhaps, brain damage.

Studies Show That Girls Drink More Than Boys

  • In 2004 alone, 1.5 million adolescent girls started using alcohol compared to only 1.29 million boys.
  • In 2005, 58.1 percent of males age 12 or older were current drinkers, higher than the rate for females (45.9 percent). However, among youths age 12 to 17, the percentage of females who were current drinkers (17.2 percent) was higher than that for males (15.9 percent).
  • Adolescent girls are more likely than boys to drink to fit in with their friends, while boys drink largely for other reasons and then join a group that also drinks.
  • Eighteen percent of teenage girls reported drinking alcohol in the past month compared to 17.2 percent of teenage boys.
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Average Trial Age of Alcohol

  • In a survey of Americans age 12 to 17, the average person took their first drink before age 13.
  • Every day in the United States, over 5,400 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.
  • Youth who use alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to be alcohol dependent than adults whose first drink is at the legal age of 21.
  • Twelve- to fourteen-year-old high-risk drinkers consume 92 percent of the alcohol consumed by their age group.
  • In a national study, 17.1 percent of eighth-graders reported having at least one drink in the past 30 days, and 14.1 percent had been drunk at least once in the past year.
  • A study of 12 year olds found that children who were more aware of beer advertising expressed an intention to drink more often as adults than did children who were less knowledgeable about the ads.
  • A 1996 study of children age 9 to 11 found that they were more familiar with the Budweiser frogs than Tony the Tiger, the Power Rangers, or Smokey the Bear.