Many young people are experiencing the consequences of drinking too much, at too early an age. As a result, underage drinking is a leading public health problem in this country.
Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.
As children move from adolescence to young adulthood, they encounter dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. Developmental transitions, such as puberty and increasing independence, have been associated with alcohol use. So in a sense, just being an adolescent may be a key risk factor not only for starting to drink but also for drinking dangerously.
An important improvement has been seen after a government study conducted amongst the age groups of 12 to 20, it has been found that alcohol use has declined significantly between 2002-2013.
There also was a significant drop in binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row) during the last two weeks – in 2014 among 12th graders, which is now under 20 percent. The most recent peak rate of binge drinking for seniors was in 1998 at 31.5 percent.
Peer disapproval of binge and decline in availability of alcohol are also one of the reasons of the decline.
2014’s Monitoring the Future survey showed continued declines in alcohol use by all grades. Nine percent of 8th graders, 23.5 percent of 10th graders, and 37.4 percent of 12th graders reported past-month use of alcohol, which was significantly lower than in 2009, when rates were 14.9 percent, 30.4 percent, and 43.5 percent, respectively.
There is a change in the way the youth is dealing with alcohol due to more knowledge and community awareness of this issue.