—among parents or children—has serious, long-lasting effects on children’s mental and physical health and safety. The startling statistics presented here give an idea of the devastating effects of alcohol on children. They also highlight the positive influence that parents can have on their children and their habits.
Alcohol Use Among Children
68% of 8th graders and 85% of 10th graders believe that alcohol is readily available to them for drinking.
40% of 9th grade students reported having consumed
alcohol before they were 13.
41% of 9th grade students reported drinking in the past
More than 20% of 8th graders and 44% of 10th graders have been drunk at least once.
Almost 25% of 9th grade students reported binge
drinking (having had five or more drinks on one occasion) in the
Rates of reported binge drinking differ among racial and ethnic groups among students in 9th-12th grades:
34% of non-Hispanic white students
30% of Hispanic students
11% of African-American students
consume alcohol and binge drink at rates almost equal to boys.
The above statistics are especially important in light of these two facts:
More than 40% of children who start drinking before the age of
13 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives.
If the onset of drinking is delayed until age 21, a child's risk of serious alcohol problems is decreased by 70%.
Parental influences have powerful effects on children's’ drinking habits, both for the good and for the bad.
For the good:
Children are less likely to drink
when their parents are involved with their lives. They are also less
likely to drink when they and their parents report feeling close to
Adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems
when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear
For the bad:
About 25% of children are exposed to family alcoholism some time before the age of 18.
Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to begin drinking during adolescence and to have problems handling alcohol.
drinking during pregnancy
increases the risk of physical birth defects as well as learning and behavioral problems throughout life.
Peer pressure—whether to drink alcohol or to be involved in positive, non-alcohol-related activities—has an enormous influence on the behaviors of school-aged kids. For example:
Evidence suggests that alcohol use by peers is a strong
predictor of adolescent use of alcohol.
According to a 1995 national survey of 4th-6th
graders who read the
, 30% of students reported
that they received "a lot" of pressure from their classmates to
Among 8th graders:
Students with higher grade point averages
reported less alcohol use in the past month.
Kids who abuse alcohol may remember 10% less of what they have learned than those who don’t drink.
Higher rates of skipping school were associated with
greater rates of alcohol use in the past month.
One national study found that students are less likely to use
alcohol if they are close to people at school, are socially involved with their
school, and if they feel that teachers treat students fairly.
Families and schools aren't the only institutions that can have a great influence on kids' behaviors. The community plays an important role as well.
Recent advertising expenditures in the United States for beer,
wine, and liquor combined ($1.4 billion) totaled about 20 times
the amount spent on milk ads ($70.5 million). A total of $910.4
million was spent on beer ads, $135.2 million on wine ads, and
$377 million on liquor ads.
A study of 5th and 6th grade students found that those who
demonstrated an awareness of beer ads also held more favorable
beliefs about drinking and intended to drink more frequently when
they grew up.
One study of midwestern states found that 46% of 9th graders
who reported drinking alcohol in the previous month said they
got the alcohol from a person aged 21 or older.
In 38 states and the District of Columbia, areas with greater
numbers of drinking establishments had higher rates of
Among drivers aged 15-20, fatal crashes involving a single
vehicle at night are three times more likely than other fatal
crashes to be alcohol-related.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
estimates that the 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws have saved
20,043 lives since the mid-1970s.
Impact on Children's Health and Safety
In a 2001 survey, nearly 7% of 9th graders reported driving one or
more times while drinking; 30% of 9th graders
reported having ridden in a car driven by someone who had been
Of all children under age 15 killed in vehicle crashes in 2000,
20% were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
Among 12-to 17-year-old current drinkers, 31% had extreme
levels of psychologic distress, and 39% exhibited serious
behavioral problems; 28% of suicides by children ages 9-15 could be attributed to alcohol.
A sample of kids age 12-16 who drink alcohol had higher levels of diastolic blood pressure than kids of the same age who did not drink alcohol.
Girls, aged 12-16, who are current drinkers are four times more likely than their non-drinking counterparts to suffer
Adolescent girls who drink have higher levels of estradiol
(an estrogen) than girls who don't drink. High levels of estrogen may
contribute to increased risk for certain diseases, including
Impact on Society
Approximately 14 million Americans—about 7.4% of the adult
population—meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or
More than 50% of American adults have a close family
member who has or has had alcoholism.
In 1998, the total cost attributable to underage drinking, including
costs of traffic crashes, violent crime, injuries, and treatment,
was more than $58 billion per year.
In 1992, the estimated productivity loss for employees with
past or current alcoholism was $66.7 billion. Productivity losses
were greatest for male employees who began drinking before age
Nearly 60% of 18-to 24-year-old current drinkers who failed to
complete high school had begun to drink before age 16.
In 1999, the average American drank 32 gallons of beer, compared with 51 gallons of soft drinks, 24 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of coffee.
Men who consume more than two alcoholic drinks per
day are at risk for many health problems, including several types
of cancer, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, and violence.
Alcohol is implicated in more than 100,000 deaths
Long-term alcohol abuse is the leading cause of illness and death from liver disease in the U.S.
In 1996, about 38% of convicted offenders were drinking at the time of committing the offense.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a