Underage drinking presents an enormous public health issue. Alcohol is the drug of choice among children and adolescents. Annually, 7,000 youth under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries, homicides, and suicides.
Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among children and adolescents. In 2002, about 2 million youth ages 12 through 20 drank five or more drinks on an occasion, five or more times a month.
- Alcohol use by persons under age 21 poses both acute and long-term risks.
- In 2002, 1.5 million youth ages 12 through 17 met criteria for admission to alcohol treatment.
Alcohol is the leading contributor to the leading causes of death each year for young people under age 21, including:
- 7,000 deaths from alcohol-related injuries
- 1,500 homicides
- 300 suicides
- Studies show 40 percent of those who start drinking before the age of 15 meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
- Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop into a person's early 20's.
- Exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects on intellectual capabilities and may increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction.
Underage drinking results in serious second-hand effects.
- Half of all persons who die in traffic crashes involving drinking drivers under age 21 are persons other than the drinking driver.
- Research among college students under age 21 revealed that 50,000 students experience alcohol-related date rape and 430,000 are injured by another student who has been drinking.
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