Although the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21, one quarter of people aged 12 to 20 currently drink alcohol. Underage drinking is a problem shared by all communities: small metropolitan areas, large metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas have similar rates of underage alcohol use. Excessive drinking is part of the issue: among people aged 12 to 20 who drink alcohol, an estimated 6 million people participated in binge drinking at least once in the last 30 days, consuming five or more drinks in one sitting, and nearly 2 million are classified as heavy drinkers, binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days.
Underage alcohol use can have serious consequences for both young people’s health and the well-being of the community. The good news is that underage drinking can be prevented.
Learn more by downloading the Fact Sheet for Prevention of Underage Drinking in the U.S. [PDF] from SAMHSA.
- Safe South Dakota – Take a Stand – A campaign from Parents Matter about talking with your kids about underage drinking & driving.
- Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide [PDF] – A guide provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that serves as a tool for identifying youth at risk for alcohol-related problems.
- Too Smart To Start – A website that helps youth, families, educators and communities prevent underage alcohol use and its related problems.
- UnderageDrinking.SAMHSA.gov – A public education website supported by the Surgeon General’s Call to Action on underage drinking that communicates to parents how they can help reduce their child’s risk of becoming involved with alcohol.
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking [PDF] – A resource from HHS that provides information on underage drinking.
- Safe Schools, Healthy Students – An initiative of HHS, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Justice, designed to prevent violence and substance abuse among our nation’s youth, schools and communities.
- Stop Underage Drinking – A collaboration among SAMHSA and other federal agencies, this website provides a wealth of information on underage drinking, such as data and statistics; resources for parents, youth, educators, community organizations and businesses; and more.