Adolescent Alcohol Use

Source: David Murphey, et al., "Alcohol Use," Adolescent Health Highlight, Child Trends, Publication 2012-34, November 2012.

Though continuing a downward trend, alcohol use remains a problem among teenagers, despite the fact that the minimum drinking age is 21 throughout the United States. 40% of high school seniors, 27% of high school sophomores, and 13% of eighth-grade students report drinking alcohol in the last month. 22% of high school seniors, 15% of high school sophomores, and 6% of eighth-grade students report binge drinking in the last two weeks. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks within two hours for males and four or more drinks for females.

Those most likely to drink are "males, those who begin drinking at an early age, those who have a family history of alcohol abuse, and those who have experienced exceptional stress."

"Adolescents are less susceptible than adults are to some of the physical effects of intoxication — such as drowsiness, poor coordination, and hangover. However, adolescents are more sensitive to the way that alcohol can affect social interaction — such as by weakening inhibitions. This combination of effects can put adolescents at high risk: it may lead them to drink more without experiencing the symptoms that might curtail their consumption, while the effects promoting social interaction may lead to further risky behavior."

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