As a parent, it’s not easy to hear scary statistics about teens and drinking. Teenagers abuse alcohol more than any other substance, and many pay a price for their drinking. From accidents to missed school and poor grades to fatalities, drinking and teens is a disturbing topic. However, as a parent you have a responsibility to be aware so that you can protect your children. Know and understand teenage drinking statistics and prepare a plan to make sure your teen understands the risks of alcohol and makes good choices.
- Most high school students drink. Never make the mistake of thinking that your teen would never drink. Stats about teen substance abuse indicate that most teens have experimented with alcohol at least once. Nearly three-quarters of seniors in high school have consumed alcohol, and 23% of high school seniors have engaged in the dangerous habit of binge drinking.
- Teens get into cars with drunk drivers. We like to think our kids will make smart decisions, and we know they know about the dangers of drunk driving, and yet they put themselves at risk for it. A quarter of all high school students have admitted to getting into a car with a drunk driver, while 8% admit to driving a car while under the influence.
- Teens start drinking before they’re teens. The average age at which boys start drinking is 11. It seems shocking, but it’s true. Girls hold off a little bit, but still, on average, first experiment with alcohol at age 13. This is especially upsetting to hear when you find out that anyone who starts drinking before the age of 15 is at a significantly increased risk for becoming an alcoholic later in life.
- Teens who drink are at risk for self-harm. Teen suicide is one of the most upsetting of all teen-related topics for parents to hear about. Teens who drink regularly are up to three times more likely to commit self-harm, which includes not only suicide, but also things like cutting.
- Alcohol use No. 1 cause of death. A final important fact that you may not want to hear but need to know is that of the top three causes of death in people between the ages of 15 and 24, alcohol is the main factor in each of them. Car crashes, homicides and suicides are the leading causes of death for this young age group, and alcohol is the leading contributing factor.
Teenage drug and alcohol use statistics are disturbing for parents, but they are also necessary to understand. Too many people have a relaxed and casual attitude about teenage drinking. Many parents assume teens are going to drink and the consequences are not likely to be too bad. The truth is that any amount of underage drinking can have devastating consequences, from suicide to car accidents to later addiction problems. If you have a teen, sit him down today and have a serious talk about alcohol.