Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in Sherburne County, Minnesota, and the United States.  Over 4,300 underage youth die each year in the U.S. due to alcohol. [1]

Did you know?

Youth who start consuming alcohol before the age of 15, compared to those who waited until they were 21 are: [2]

  • 4x as likely to become alcohol dependent

  • 6x more likely to abuse alcohol

  • 12x more likely to be unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol

  • 7x more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash after drinking

  • 10x more likely to have been in a physical fight after drinking


Why do young people drink?

As children mature, it is natural for them to assert their independence, seek new challenges, and try taking risks. Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. Many want to try alcohol, but often do not fully recognize its effects on their health and behavior. Other reasons young people drink alcohol include: [3]

  • Peer pressure

  • Increased independence, or desire for it

  • Stress

In addition, many youth may have easy access to alcohol. Students who report drinking alcohol say the most common way they access alcohol is from social sources, such as relatives, older friends, or at parties.


Consequences of Underage Drinking

Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience: [1]

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades

  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities

  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk

  • Unwanted and unprotected sexual activity

  • Physical and sexual assault

  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide

  • Alcohol-related car crashes

  • Memory problems

  • Misuse of other drugs

  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects

  • Death from alcohol poisoning

Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

Adolescence is a time of change and growth, including behavior changes. These changes usually are a normal part of growing up but sometimes can point to an alcohol problem. Parents and teachers should pay close attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking: [3]

  • Changes in mood, including anger and irritability 

  • Academic and/or behavioral problems in school

  • Rebelliousness

  • Changing groups of friends

  • Low energy level

  • Less interest in activities and/or care in appearance 

  • Finding alcohol among a young person's things

  • Smelling alcohol on a young person's breath

  • Problems concentrating and/or remembering 

  • Slurred speech

  • Coordination problems 


Alcohol and Minnesota

In 2015: [4]

  • Of the 411 people who died in traffic crashes, 137 were alcohol-related 

  • 2,203 suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes

  • 25,027 were arrested for DWI (average of 69 DWIs per day)

  • 1,316 (5%) of the DWIs were issued to underage drivers

  • Average BAC for drivers with a DWI was .15

  • 1/7 licensed drivers in Minnesota has at least one DWI
























Source: Newport Academy
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© 2020 by Sherburne County Substance Use Prevention Coalition