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Negative Consequences of Underage Drinking

Adolescence can be a wonderful time filled with physical and emotional growth. For some youth, however, adolescence takes a dark turn, especially when underage alcohol use is involved.

Underage alcohol use increases the risk of academic failure, illicit drug use, and tobacco use. It can cause a range of physical consequences, from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning, suicide, homicide, and traffic crashes.1 Annually, about 4,300 people under age 21 die from injuries involving underage drinking.2

In 2013, adults who had their first drink at age 14 or younger were more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older (14.8 vs. 2.3 percent).3


1 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Underage drinking: A growing health care concern.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Atlanta, GA: Author.

3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-48, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863.