Myth: Drinking is just a phase all kids go through; they’ll grow out of it.
Fact: Many don’t grow out of it. Those who start drinking before they’re 21 are more likely to drink more later in life versus those who do not drink until they are 21. And, they continue this pattern through their 20s.
And while we wait for them to “grow out of it”, they’re:
dying in car crashes (an average of eight American youth under age 21 die every day in alcohol-related crashes);
getting hurt in accidents such as falls, burns, and drowning;
contracting sexually transmitted diseases;
becoming teenage parents;
committing crimes (physical assault, sexual assault, vandalism, robbery, theft, homicide, etc.);
becoming physical and sexual assault victims; and
costing society a considerable amount of money.
A person’s brain does not stop developing until his or her early to mid-20s and adding alcohol to the mix is a recipe for disaster.
About 5,000 youth under the age of 21 die annually as a result of alcohol-related injuries. 38% of those deaths involve car accidents, 32 percent result from homicides, and about 6 percent result from suicides.
Sixth and sevenths graders exposed to high levels of alcohol advertising – from television, magazines, in-store displays and branded promotional items – are 50 percent more likely to drink than children with low exposure to such marketing.
More youth use alcohol than tobacco or any illicit drug.
Myth: Europeans let their kids drink at an early age, yet they do not have the alcohol-related problems we do.
Youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to have some form of alcohol dependency later in life than those who did not drink before the age of 21.
Children who are drinking alcohol by 7th grade are more likely to report academic problems, substance use, and delinquent behavior in both middle school and high school. By young adulthood, early alcohol use was associated with employment problems, other substance abuse, and criminal and other violent behavior.
About two fifths of students (41%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by 8th grade.
Adolescents Drink Less Frequently Than Adults, But When They Do Drink, They Drink More Heavily Than Adults. When youth between the ages of 12 and 20 consume alcohol, they drink on average about five drinks per occasion about six times a month. This amount of alcohol puts an adolescent drinker in the binge range, which, depending on the study, is defined as "five or more drinks on one occasion" or "five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women." By comparison, adult drinkers age 26 and older consume on average two to three drinks per occasion about nine times a month.