|Young People and Alcohol
UNDERAGE DRINKING IS WIDESPREAD IN
More than 10 million current drinkers in the United
States are between the ages of 12-20. Of these young drinkers, 20% engage in binge
drinking and 6% are heavy drinkers.
On average, young people begin drinking at 13.1 years
By the time they are high school seniors, more than
80% have used alcohol and approximately 62% have been drunk.
Girls are beginning to drink at younger ages. In the
1960s, 7% of 10- to 14-year-old females used alcohol; by the early 1990's, that figure had
risen to 31%.
Due to heavy or binge drinking, nearly one out of
every five teenagers (16%) has experienced "black outs," after which they could
not remember what happened the previous evening. 
Young people have easy access to alcohol. In alcohol
purchase attempts made by researchers across the U.S., buyers who appeared to be underage
were able to purchase alcohol with no questions asked at least 50% of the time. 
AND THE CONSEQUENCES ARE DEVASTATING...
Alcohol is a factor in the four leading causes of
death among persons ages 10 to 24: (1) motor-vehicle crashes, (2) unintentional injuries,
(3) homicide, and (4) suicide. 
Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are
four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age
More than 67% of young people who start drinking
before the age of 15 will try an illicit drug. Children who drink are 7.5 times more
likely to use any illicit drug, more than 22 times more likely to use marijuana, and 50
times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drank. [91
Teens under 15 who have ever consumed alcohol are
twice as likely to have sex as those who have not. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) sexually active
teens who use alcohol have had sexual intercourse with four or more individuals. 
Underage drinking costs Americans nearly $53 billion
annually. If this cost were shared equally by each congressional district, the amount
would total more than $120 million per district. 
Researchers estimate that alcohol use is implicated
in one to two-thirds of sexual assault and acquaintance or "date" rape cases
among teens and college students. 
In 1999, 21% of 15- to 20-year-old drivers who were
killed in crashes were intoxicated. 
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