Health Consequences

Neighborhood Alcohol Outlets Tied to Kids’ Injury Risk
*U.S. News and World Report

Underage Alcohol Use: Where Do Young People Drink?
*National Survey on Drug Use and Health, August 2008

Why 21?
*Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

Alcohol-related risks are increased four times for people under 21.

 

  • Research-encompassing topics from addiction and disease to social development show that people under 21 are different physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and developmentally than people over 21.
  • Alcohol compromises learning, memory, abstract thinking, problem solving, attention, and concentration.
  • Young people who are exposed to alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol addiction/alcoholism than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Alcohol use in adolescence is associated with psychological distress and depression.

  • Of current drinkers, ages 12-17, 31% had extreme levels of psychological distress, and 39% had serious behavioral problems.
  • 12-16 year old girls are four times more likely to suffer from depression if they drink than if they don’t drink.

There is a link between suicide and underage drinking.

  • Adolescents who drink heavily are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • Among 8th grade girls who drink heavily, 37% report attempting suicide, compared to 11% of attempted suicide among 8th grade girls who don’t drink.

Underage consumption among girls has serious consequences on health.

  • Teenage girls who are heavy drinkers are five times more likely than nondrinkers to engage in sexual activities and a third less likely to use condoms, which can result in pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Adolescent girls who drink exhibit higher levels of estradiol (an estrogen) and testosterone than nondrinkers. High levels of estrogen may contribute to an increased risk for specific diseases including breast cancer.

Underage drinking is linked to violent and aggressive behavior.

  • Youths, ages 12-17, who reported violent behaviors also reported higher rates of illicit drug or alcohol use compared with kids who did not report violent behaviors.
  • A national study indicates that adults who began drinking before age 14 were 11 times more likely to have ever been in a fight while drinking or after drinking than adults who began drinking after the age of 21.
  • Boys who drink are prone to fighting and sexual aggression: one study suggests that males are almost twice as likely as females to engage in alcohol-related physical fighting.
  • Among high school males, 39% say it is acceptable for a boy to force sex with a girl who is drunk or high.
  • Researchers estimate that alcohol use is implicated in one- to two-thirds of sexual assault and date rape cases among teens and college students.