- July 24, 2012
- Jennifer Salerno
The pressure to drink alcohol is at its highest during the adolescent years. According to the CDC, more young people in the U.S. use alcohol than tobacco or illicit drugs. Approximately 42% of youth in 9-12th grade reports drinking alcohol within the past month. The younger a person is when he or she starts to drink, the greater the risk for developing alcohol dependence within 10 years of drinking onset. This is particularly alarming as the average age for first time alcohol use is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.
Binge drinking – or heavy consumption of alcohol in one sitting – is also a problem for adolescents, with 26% of high school students reporting binge drinking within the past month. Teens who drink are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim of perpetrator of a sexual assault. One study found that 23% of students who reported having sexual intercourse during the past three months also reported drinking alcohol or using drugs before their last sexual intercourse experience.
Talk with teens about their alcohol use and give them options for being safe when they find themselves in a situation involving alcohol:
- Bring your own non-alcohol drink to a party
- Carry around a cup filled with juice, soda or water
- Don’t accept drinks from others or leave your drink unattended
- If you are given a drink with alcohol, go to the bathroom and dump it in the sink
- Use an excuse to say no such as, I can’t, I have to get up early tomorrow to (work, study,…)”, “I already got in huge trouble once for drinking, I can’t do it again”, or “My parents would kill me!”