Underage Drinking

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What is the harm?

Just because alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21 does not mean that it is harmless. In fact, alcohol affects youth more than adults because the brain does not fully develop until around age 25. People who begin drinking at an early age are 5 times more likely to have addiction problems in adulthood. For more information on how substance abuse affects teenage development, visit our Prevention page

 Other potential effects of alcohol include increased risk of: 

Red arrow bullet point Developing substance abuse problems later in life
Red arrow bullet point Using or abusing other drugs
Red arrow bullet point Engaging in risky sexual behavior
Red arrow bullet point Physical or sexual assault
Red arrow bullet point Engaging in criminal behavior
Red arrow bullet point Irreversible brain damage, like memory loss
Red arrow bullet point Liver disease
Red arrow bullet point Death 

To learn more about the risks associated with underage drinking visit SAMHSA's website

What is binge drinking?

Spilling cup of alcohol

All underage drinking is risky, but some drinking habits are worse than others. Binge drinking is defined as drinking 5 or more drinks in a single occasion for men, and 4 or more drinks in a single occasion for women. Binge drinking is common among youth, especially those ages 18 to 20. 

Young people that engage in binge drinking are at least 2 times as likely to develop substance use problems later in life and 11 times more likely to engage in risky behavior while drinking. Rate of underage binge drinking increase in stressful situations, like upcoming exams, and on special occasions, like prom or homecoming. Additionally, youth are more likely to binge drink with their friends, when they are away from their own home. 

Check out SAMHSA's page on binge drinking to learn more. 

Where do youth get alcohol?

Research shows that most youth in Texas get alcohol most often at parties or from friends. The following table illustrates other frequent sources of alcohol for youth. 

Graph of youth alcohol sources


Did you know that parents can face legal trouble for hosting parties where minors are drinking? To learn more about social hosting and other legal issues related to underage drinking, visit our Policy page. 


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