Movies, TV, and more centering around teenage life often depict the use of alcohol at parties. While entertainment is often a quasi-representation of real life, this is one instance where reality and fiction align.
Underage drinking is illegal, but there’s a difference between sneaking a drink and alcohol abuse. To be considered abuse, the misuse of alcohol must be habitual and in excess. The following are statics from 2020 about these teens, the ones who regularly abuse alcohol.
Roughly 60% of 18-year-olds in the U.S. have tried at least one drink at one time or another. Alcohol also remains the most common drug used by teenagers. These statistics line up with brain development, where pleasure and reward develop faster than impulse control.
Those developing brains are six times more likely to become hooked on alcohol or drink until they blackout than those 21 and older, according to the CDC. While it might start with a few drinks, abuse can quickly develop. Teens may drink excessively to cope with emotional problems, abuse at home, or simply because they enjoy it but slowly become addicted.
When Does it Start?
Before teens in Colorado need a Boulder DWI attorney or those in South Carolina find themselves in an inebriated car crash, they have to have a drink first. So, when do teens have their first drink? Studies show that the average male has their first sip at 11, while the average female tastes their first sip at 13.
This event often happens when teens sneak liquor from their parents, but it is also likely to take place at a party with less-than-ideal supervision. In other scenarios, teens might get their alcohol from an adult friend or a willing parent. Regardless of how, nearly all teens share their first experience with peers.
How Many Teens End Up Abusing Alcohol?
It won’t happen to every teenager, regardless of whether they’ve had a few drinks in the past, but many do find themselves abusing alcohol. It’s estimated that, out of those aged 12 to 20, 10 million are consuming alcoholic beverages.
That number is staggering, but it only makes up 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. For teens, however, 90% of alcohol consumed is done so during binge drinking. A binge simply means drinking for the purpose of getting drunk, leaving only 10% of teens casually and more responsibly (though still illegally) drinking alcohol than their peers.
Injury, Assault, Death, and Driving
Even without binge drinking, high-risk behaviors commonly follow consumption. This could lead to hardcore substance abuse as teens try drugs like cocaine, prescriptions medications, and even heroin. All of the above and more can lead to further risky behavior and overdose.
Alcohol overdose alone was responsible for 189,000 trips to the emergency room in 2010, just among teens. Another 4,300 of those die from excessive consumption. Part of risky behavior can also be driving drunk, leading to another 1,580 deaths a year among the teenage population.
Sexual assault can also become prevalent in alcohol soaked situations, with alcohol involved for roughly 12.5% of victims. Another 50% of college women are sexually assaulted and 27% raped by 25% of the male college population.
Finally, violence is always a possibility when too much alcohol is involved. There are few statistics on teenagers fighting, but legal professionals like this personal injury attorney in Santa Ana represent victims every year. The odds of gun violence when alcohol abuse is involved also rise.