This bulletin presents findings from a literature review that investigated how underage drinking can affect a youth’s physical, emotional and neurological health. In it, the authors discuss the legal, neurological, economic and personal consequences youth can face when they make the decision to begin drinking.
The authors highlight the following points:
- The human brain continues to develop until a person is around age 25. Underage drinking may impair this neurological development, causing youth to make irresponsible decisions, encounter memory lapses, or process and send neural impulses more slowly.
- Underage drinking cost society $68 billion in 2007, or $1 for every drink consumed. This includes medical bills, income loss, and costs from pain and suffering.
- In 2009, 19 percent of drivers ages 16-20 who were involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal adult limit (0.08).
- Alcohol use encourages risky sexual behavior. Youth who drink may be more likely to have sex, become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases.