Reports & Research


When does the drinking begin? What effects does alcohol have on a developing mind? How does drinking lead to other problems in a child’s life? The following statistics can answer these questions and much more.

  • People age 12 to 20 years drink almost 20% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S., with over 90% of this alcohol consumed in the form of high-risk drinking.
  • There were over 142,000 emergency room visits by youth aged 12 to 20 years for reasons related to alcohol in 2004.
  • Individuals who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who start drinking at the legal age of 21.
  • Each day in the U.S., over 5,400 children under the age of 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.
  • On average, youth between the ages of 12 and 17 begin to drink at 13 years old.
  • 48% of alcohol use reported by college and university students is done by those who are underage.
  • About 10.8 million youth between the ages of 12 and 20 have had a drink in the past month.
  • Every day, three teens are killed while driving drunk.
  • Sexually-active teenage females who participate in high-risk drinking are 63% more likely to become teen mothers.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4,554 underage deaths occur each year due to excessive alcohol use.
  • Underage high-risk drinkers are more than twice as likely as non-drinkers to report having attempted to injure themselves or having contemplated or attempted to commit suicide.
  • Costs associated with youth drinking are an estimated $53 billion annually (includes costs to society such as medical care costs and lost productivity, as well as costs to the underage drinker).
  • One in four teenagers have attended parties where minors were drinking in front of parents.
  • Nearly one in four teens have said that their parents have supplied them with alcohol.
  • About one in four parents that have children age 12 to 20 agree that teens should be able to drink at home with their parents present.
  • Nine out of ten parents believe that teens could most likely obtain alcohol using a fake ID, but only one-third of teens believe it would be easy.
  • Alcohol use has been implicated in at least half of the rapes reported by college and university women.
  • Underage youth are able to purchase alcohol in about 30-50% of purchase attempts, either from commercial sources or social sources.
  • 57% of underage college and university drinkers have reported paying less than $1 for a drink, got it free, or paid a set price for an unlimited number of drinks.
  • One third of high school students have reported that at least once in the last month, they have ridden with a driver who had been drinking.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, American Medical Association, The University of Minnesota (Alcohol Epidemiology Program) and Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (Office of Applied Studies).