More adolescents drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes or use marijuana.[1] Nearly four in ten high school seniors report drinking some alcohol within the past month, and more than two in ten reported “binge drinking” within the past two weeks.[1] Drinking endangers adolescents in multiple ways including motor vehicle crashes, a leading cause of death for this age group.[2],[3] Nearly one in four adolescents has ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking.[4] Genetic factors and life stressors influence adolescents’ alcohol abuse, but parents and
guardians can help by monitoring adolescents’ activities and keeping channels of communication open.[5]


Check out these resources for adolescents who may be struggling with alcohol issues:

  • Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) substance abuse treatment helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. Confidential, free service, along with referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations, are available for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • To find a local treatment facility, visit SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.
  • The Partnership at  offers information for parents about drug and alcohol abuse. There is also a toll-free number (1-855-378-4373) that parents or other caring adults can call to speak with a social worker if they are concerned about their adolescent’s drug or alcohol use.  

Learn more about alcohol and adolescents:

Resources for Parents

  • Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is a guide with tips for parents on how to communicate effectively with their children about alcohol. It is specifically targeted at parents of younger adolescents (10 to 14 years of age).
  • The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking has discussion guides and other resources for parents and caregivers in both English and Spanish.
  • Teen Drinking and Driving:  A Dangerous Mix is a campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that provides data and information on teen drinking and driving. Its website outlines the problem, risk factors, and tips on how to help. 

Resources for Adolescents

  • The Cool Spot from NIAAA offers information to younger adolescents about alcohol and peer pressure, and provides them with strategies to make healthy choices.
  • Underage Drinking – Myths vs. Facts from SAMHSA provides adolescents with the real facts about alcohol use and gives adolescents information about what to do if they do have an alcohol problem.
  • Straight talk about alcohol from provides adolescents with tools to “say no” to alcohol, along with information about the effect of alcohol on the body.


Footnotes »

Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2013: Overview of key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved February 16, 2016 from
Hoyert, D.L. & Xu, J. (2012). Deaths: final data from 2011. National Vital Statistics Reports; 61(6). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
U.S. Department of Transportation. (2014). Young Drivers. DOT HS 812 019. Washington, DC. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(4). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
Brody, G. E., Beach, S. R. H., Philibert, R. A., Chen, Y.-f., & Murry, V. M. (2009). Prevention effects moderate the association of 5-HTTLPR and youth risk behavior initiation: Gene x environment hypotheses tested via a randomized prevention design. Child Development, 80(3), 645-661.
Last updated: April 08, 2016