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Underage Drinking Statistics

Many more young people use alcohol than tobacco or illegal drugs. By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least one drink.

Underage drinking occurs in social settings: According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among persons aged 12 to 20 who had used alcohol in the past month, most (80.9 percent) were with two or more people the last time they drank alcohol.

More information on the social context of alcohol use.

As they grow older, the chance that young people will use alcohol grows. Approximately 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they have used alcohol at least once. By age 13 that number doubles. And by age 15, approximately 50 percent have had at least one drink.

Teens drink less often than adults. But when teens do drink, they drink more than adults. On average, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion. This behavior is called binge drinking. It is a very dangerous way of drinking that can lead to serious problems and even death.

Alcohol use by young people often is made possible by adults. After all, teens can’t legally get alcohol on their own.