Teen Alcohol Consumption Shockingly High

Even though the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, more than a quarter of all alcohol consumed here is drunk by people under the age of 20! Experts at Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse have found that more than 30 percent of today’s high school students binge drink at least once a month (five drinks in a row) and that teen drinking represents a $27 billion dollar annual business in the US.

Within hours of the announcement, the alcohol industry began criticizing the report, calling it “flat out wrong”. They say that only 10 percent of all alcohol is consumed by teens.

While others argue about the numbers, our concern is our teens. Build a bridge to your teen by developing an active interest in at least one thing your child loves. This will give you something positive to talk about as a backdrop for whatever other conversations you have.

Don’t be afraid to bring up the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Watching TV or a movie together can be a good springboard for conversation. And have dinner together whenever possible, as a chance to connect. Be your child’s biggest fan. Help facilitate friendships with positive peers, and actively model positive behavior yourself.

If you do suspect a problem, waste no time in getting professional help. But whatever else you say or do, the most immediate message children need repeated is that if they or someone they know has been drinking, they MUST NOT get behind the wheel. Call. And there will be no negative words from you that night, just help getting a ride. Tens of thousands of teens are killed or injured each year in alcohol-related crashes. Tens of thousands of parents know the pain of this tragedy.

Published on: February 26, 2002
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.
Add your comment

Recent Comments

Hi Dr. Greene,

From reading things on here about huffing hopefully I might have found something about my 12 year old granddaughter. My only beautiful grandchild. My daughter and myself are beside ourselves with worry. We have recently discovered that my granddaughter is taking cans of deodorant and hairspray from anywhere. It can be a full can, but within minutes it’s empty.

At first we just thought blimey, I’ve used all that deodorant already or me and my daughter blamed each other for taking each others deodorant. Then we realized every time I’d walk into my granddaughters bedroom the strong smell was there, but we couldn’t smell deodorant on her. Then I discovered my towels would be wet and strong smell of deodorant and sometimes there would be white marks left. And also some of her clothing that she had hidden under her bed or in a bag. We didn’t think much of it at first. We asked her what had she been doing with my towels, etc. Then we asked her if she was taking the deodorant she just looked at us … and said no.

Anyway my daughter was tidying my granddaughters bedroom she found 18 empty cans of deodorant, hairsprays evan her dads stuff. She took a picture just to show me. So I decided to do her room at my house. I found 14 empty cans hidden all over. We have asked her why she is doing this and just denies everything. But now she is kind of admitting to it all. She says she doesn’t know why she’s doing it. She won’t tell us who or where she had got the idea from.

Were not 100% sure that she is huffing, but we can’t see it being anything else. I know one thing that she is a lot more daft and giddy. And up a lot through the night and sleeps nearly all day if we let her. Now we are hiding everything, but if she finds it she takes it and we never see it again. We’re so worried. Know I love and cherish my darling granddaughter to bits and so does her mum. What do you think we should do? Hope you can help . Thank you.
Tracey C