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substance and addiction prevention branch

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Underage Drinking

While underage drinking, or drinking among people under age 21, is common in the United States, it can have harmful outcomes. In addition to the immediate health effects​ of drinking alcohol, youth who drink alcohol also risk changes in brain development and disruptions in normal growth or sexual development. Youth who drink alcohol are also more likely to experience:

  • Alcohol use disorder and misuse of other substances

  • Legal problems including arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk

  • Memory problems

  • Poor school performance including higher rates of absences or lower grades

  • Physical problems including hangovers and illnesses

  • Social problems such as fighting or lack of participation in activities

The risk of experiencing these problems is greater for youth who binge drink when compared to youth who do not binge drink.

Need Help?

  • If you or someone you know needs help with their alcohol use, call SAMHSA's confidential, free, 24/7 National Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

  • Call or text 988 if you are experiencing suicidal, substance use, or other mental health crises. A trained crisis counselor is available to help you 24/7 for free. You can also visit

Resour​ces for parents or caregivers:

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