Underage drinking is a serious health problem for young people that poses serious health and safety risks. Those most at risk are teens who drink heavily, or binge drink. Various biological, psychological, and social factors put youth at risk for alcohol use and alcohol-related problems.


According to the CDC, roughly twenty-nine percent of high school students drink alcohol at least once per month. Teen drinking is a problem in every state in the country and no geographic area is immune to this problem. 


Risk Factors for Teen Drinking                                 

 The following are risk factors for teen drinking:

  • Genetics – children of alcoholics are far more likely to drink during their teen years
  • Childhood behavior – such as aggressiveness (aggressive children are more likely to have alcohol dependence later in life)
  • Psychiatric disorders  – Children with ADHD and anxiety disorders are more likely to drink alcohol during adolescence
  • Parenting – parents who drink frequently and have a positive attitude toward alcohol are more likely to have teens who drink
  • Family environment – a lack of parental or familial support, monitoring, and communication are associated with higher levels of alcohol use among teens
  • Peers – peer acceptance of drinking leads to increased alcohol use, as does peer pressure
  • Trauma – Physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, and other trauma increases the risk of drinking alcohol among teens
  • Exposure to alcohol-based advertising – The more exposed an adolescent is to this kind of advertising, the higher the chance that he or she will drink alcohol during his or her teen years


Consequences for Teen Drinking

Some common consequences of teen drinking include:

  • Problems in school, such as lower grades, cutting class, etc
  • Social issues such as violent or delinquent behavior, and a lack of participation in healthy youth activities
  • Health concerns such as alcohol poisoning, disruption of normal brain development, and memory issues
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • High risk of suicide attempts
  • Legal trouble

If alcohol addiction develops during adolescence, a variety of severe health consequences can develop later in life, such as liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, nerve damage, and respiratory infections. 

Drinking any amount of alcohol before driving also significantly increases the risk of a crash for teens. There are roughly 1,800 fatal car crashes in America caused by intoxicated teen drivers every year. Teen drinkers have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash compared to older drivers with the same blood alcohol (BAC) levels. In 2018, 15% of all 16-20 year old’s who died while driving cars had blood alcohol levels of 0.08% or higher.



While many view underage drinking as a normal part of teen life, several studies have found that teen drinking is linked to greater risk of substance abuse later in life. The earlier teens begin to drink, the more problems they may face in adulthood with substance abuse and life goals related education or careers. It’s important for educators to provide prevention education against teen drinking and provide intervention support for students who drink.  


Take Action Now to Prevent Teen Drinking At Your School

If you are ready to take action to stop teen drinking for the students at your school, then you should focus on school-based practices to reduce underage drinking. Another thing you can do is to get in touch with us today to learn about bringing our alcohol prevention training courses to your campus.

Get started now by getting in touch with us today!



  1. ”Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm  
  2. “Teen Alcohol Abuse Factors: Causes of Underage Drinking.” The Recovery Village. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/teen-addiction/alcohol/teen-alcoholism/teen-alcohol-abuse-risk-factors/ 
  3. “Underage Drinking.” Alcohol Rehab Guide. https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/underage-drinking/ 
  4. “Teens’ Alcohol Problems.” Alcohol Cost Calculator. http://www.alcoholcostcalculator.org/kids/teens/print-teens.php 
  5. “Teenage Drunk Drives: Don’t Let Your Teen Become a Statistic.” Talk It Out North Carolina. https://www.talkitoutnc.org 
  6. “Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html#:~:text=Drinking%20any%20amount%20of%20alcohol,as%20compared%20with%20older%20drivers.&text=Teen%20drivers%20have%20a%20much,the%20legal%20limit%20for%20adults.