Underage & Problem Drinking
Across the United States, more than half (56%) of adults age 21 years and older report drinking alcohol in the past month, and nearly half of those drinkers across most age categories report binge drinking in the past month. Alcohol accounts for approximately 100,000 deaths in the United States each year. Drinking less lowers the risk of long-term health problems like cancer, heart disease, liver disease, depression, and alcohol use disorder. Read more about alcohol in the United States.
The current U.S. Health and Human Services' Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines) recommend that if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do not exceed 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.
According to the Guidelines, people who should not drink alcoholic beverages at all include the following:
- Children and adolescents (anyone under the age of 21)
- Individuals of any age who cannot limit their drinking to low level
- Women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant
- Individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination
- Individuals taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol
- Individuals with certain medical conditions
- Persons recovering from alcoholism
Underage drinking is alcohol consumption by anyone under the age of 21 years of age.
Teens that have their first drink before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent at some point in their lives than those that wait until they are 21 to drink (the rate of alcohol dependence drops the closer they get to 21).
Binge Drinking is defined as having 4 or more standard drinks, for women, and 5 or more standard drinks, for men, on a single occasion (2 to 3 hours).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults aged 26 and older
- Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report driving under the influence than non-binge drinkers
- Almost 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking
Binge drinking is associated with:
- Unintentional injuries (car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
- Intentional injuries (sexual assault, domestic violence, firearm injuries)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unintended pregnancies
- Alcohol poisoning
- Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Rethink the Drink
One in five people in Oregon drink excessively. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) initiative "Rethink the Drink" offers information and resources to help individuals handle alcohol in healthier ways and to drink less.