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Teen Alcohol Use

Teen alcohol statistics show nearly 30% of teens have experimented with or continue to drink alcohol. What can you do about teen alcohol use? This article will review some suggestions on communicating with your teen about alcohol use and alcohol treatment.


Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance during adolescence. Its use is associated with motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths; with problems in school and in the workplace; and with fighting, crime, and other serious consequences. Early onset of heavy drinking may be especially problematic, potentially increasing the likelihood of negative outcomes.

It is never too early to educate your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use. The first step in educating your teen is to first educate yourself on drug and alcohol abuse. Alcohol consumption and alcoholism by our Nation's teens is rapidly growing. Statistics also show that this is not a specific age, sex, race or demographic problem.

Teen Alcohol Statistics In 2004: 

  • 10.8 million underage persons 12 to 20 (28.7%) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. 
  • 2.8% of 12th graders reported daily alcohol use. More than 1% (1.3%) of 10th graders and 0.6% of 8th graders reported daily alcohol use. 
  • 29.2% of 12th graders reported having five or more drinks in a row in the last 2 weeks. Twenty-two percent of 10th graders and 11.4% of 8th graders reported having five or more drinks in a row in the last 2 weeks. 
  • More males than females aged 12-20 reported binge drinking (22.1% vs. 17%) and heavy drinking (8.2% vs. 4.3%).

Among youth aged 12-20, past month alcohol use rates ranged from 16.4% among Asians to 19.1% among blacks, 24.3% among American Indians or Alaska Natives, 26.4% among those representing two or more races, 26.6% among Hispanics and 32.6% among whites. Current alcohol use rates were higher in small metropolitan areas than in large metropolitan areas: Rates were 31.6% in small metropolitan areas, 27% in large metropolitan areas, and 28.8% in non-metropolitan areas. The rate in non-metropolitan rural areas was 28.7%

Drinking has become prevalent and the statistics more frightening every day. We need to educate teens, not only in schools, but also in the home. Too often parents are scared to talk to their teens about alcohol usage or are in disbelief. In order to change the statistics, parents need to step in and communicate with their teens on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Studies have shown that teens who are close to their parents are less likely to try drugs and alcohol. The more interaction between a teen and parent, the more self worth they have and as a result, they will not be as likely to fall into peer pressure and they will not be afraid to communicate if or when they need help.

In this hectic world we live in, how do you get close to your teens? Some ways to build a closer relationship are as follows: 

  • Establish together time. The more one on one time you spend with your teen, the closer you will be. Engage in an activity every week that is special for both you and your teen. You can work together to select and plan these activities or plan something that you know will interest him/her. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask. Be open with your teen; get to know their friends and their friend's parents. Know what activities your teen is doing, where they are going and who they will be with. 
  • Try to be there for your teen after school. Teens are more likely to experiment with alcohol when no one is around. If you are unable to be there for your teen, look into extracurricular activities for your teen to participate in. 
  • Eat together as often as you can. Whether in a restaurant or at home, eating together builds family values and trust and encourages communication. Studies show that teens whose families eat together at least 5 times a week are less likely to use alcohol.

Not only will the above tips help parents become closer to their teens, it will help teens make the right choices as a result of self value and family trust.

If you do find that their teen is using alcohol, get them help immediately. Treatment facilities, both inpatient and outpatient, are located across the United States. The earlier you get your teen help, the less likely it is for the problem to escalate into something bigger. If the problem does escalate and you are unable to handle it, boarding schools and private schools are also options.

Remember: Don't be afraid to communicate with your teen, ask your teen how their day was or what tests they have coming up. This will build a moat around your teen that will help protect them from peer pressure.

Teen Alcohol Use Sources

  • Stop Alcohol Abuse [online]
  • Drug Free AZ [online]

Related Article: Teen Drug Use / Abuse >>

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