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Risk and Dangers – Barrington LEADS

Risk and Dangers

Things to Know

Alcohol is the most commonly used illegal substance by teenagers. This is due to many factors:

  • Easy assess to alcohol
  • Perception that alcohol is not as serious as other drugs
  • Social acceptance of alcohol among adults


Binge drinking kills as many young people as all other drugs combined. – Journal of Substance Abuse

Why 21?

The legal drinking age of 21 is based on science and medical fact.

  • The adolescent brain is developing rapidly. Alcohol prohibits this development
  • The adolescent brain has not yet developed the “cut-off switch” for alcohol
  • Drinking alcohol at young ages increases the likelihood of life-long dependence
  • Drinking alcohol at young ages dramatically increases the use of other illicit drugs


Teens tend to drink less often than adults. When teens do drink alcohol, they often drink much more than adults. On average, teens have 5 or more drinks on a single occasion. This is called binge-drinking. A dangerous way of drinking that can lead to serious problems and death. Adolescent teenagers brains are still forming and have not yet developed the “cut-off” mechanism that makes them sleep or pass out from excessive drinking. Instead, teens can consume dangerous amounts of alcohol before they realize it’s too late. Adults rarely suffer from alcohol poisoning, but excessive drinking can often bring teens to this dangerous medical condition.

Early Alcohol Use & Long-Term Addiction

Drinking at an Early Age Dramatically Increases the Likelihood of Life-Long Alcohol Dependency

More youth are drinking alcohol than are smoking cigarettes or using marijuana. Today, 10% of 12-year olds have had alcohol, and this percentage increases to 50% by age 15.  Research has shown that drinking alcohol at an early age can lead to alcohol-related problems later in life. Of adults who started drinking alcohol before age 15, approximately 40% say they have the signs of alcohol dependence. This dependency rate is five times higher than for adults who didn’t drink until they were age 21. 

Source: Journal of Substance Abuse

More than 67% of young people who start drinking by age 15 will try an illicit drug.  As compared to children who never drink, children who drink are:

  • 7.5 times more likely to use an illicit drug
  • 22 times more likely to use marijuana
  • 50 times more likely to use cocaine.

Source:  Lake County Prevention Task Force

Taking Away the Keys Is Not Enough

Each year, approximately 5,000 people die as a result of underage drinking, and most of these deaths have nothing to do with operating a motor vehicle.

Underage alcohol use is a major cause of death among young people in the US.

  • 1,900 deaths from alcohol-induced motor vehicle crashes
  • 1,600 deaths from alcohol-induced homicides
  • 300 deaths from alcohol-induced suicides
  • More than 1,000 deaths from alcohol-induced falls, burns, and drowning

Source:  Journal of Substance Abuse

Why Teens Choose NOT to Drink Alcohol 

Teens can and do choose to not use drugs or drink alcohol. Research clearly shows strong parental disapproval, is the number one reason teens choose not to drink alcohol.

When teens were asked to rank the major influences in their lives, they place parents first and family second, before their friends and other influences. 

Click Here for Ways to say No 

©2015 Barrington LEADS. All rights reserved.