Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, ranking higher than tobacco and illicit drugs. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.2 More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.2 On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.3
Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker’s body and can damage a developing fetus. Intoxication can impair brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease. Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a diagnosable disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, and/or continued use despite harm or personal injury. Alcohol abuse, which can lead to alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work.
Statistics and Trends
In 2009, 51.9% of Americans age 12 and older had used alcohol at least once in the 30 days prior to being surveyed; 23.7% had binged (5+ drinks within 2 hours); and 6.8% drank heavily (5+ drinks on 5+ occasions). In the 12-17 age range, 14.7% had consumed at least one drink in the 30 days prior to being surveyed; 8.8% had binged; and 2.1% drank heavily.4
The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 13.8% of 8th graders, 28.9% of 10th graders, and 41.2% of 12th graders had consumed at least one drink in the 30 days prior to being surveyed, and 5.0% of 8th graders, 14.7% of 10th graders, and 26.8% of 12th graders had been drunk.5
- The younger you are when you start drinking, the more likely you are to have a problem with alcohol.
- One 12 ounce beer = 5 ounce glass of wine = 1 ½ shots of 80 proof liquor = 1 standard drink
- How alcohol affects you depends on:
- how much alcohol is consumed
- the time period in which it is consumed
- how much food is in the stomach
- body weight
- Alcohol is a depressant.
- When someone has a problem, they follow certain patterns:
- lie to sober friends
- hide it from sober friends
- party more with drinking friends
- deny they have a problem
- If you’re asking yourself if you have a problem, you probably do.
- The body takes about ½ hour to feel the effects of alcohol. If you drink before that time, you may drink too much.
- Alcohol poisoning occurs when you drink too much alcohol too fast, which can lead to coma or even death.
- The worst thing to do when a person has had too much to drink is to leave them alone or lying down. They need to be kept awake and moving– and they need medical help.
- Alcohol-related accidents are the #1 killer of teens.
- 1.4 million teens a year are injured in some way through an alcohol related accident.
- You ALWAYS have a choice about whether or not to drink.
- Binge drinking can lead to permanent brain damage. Coma, then death, can happen in less than an hour.
- Some of the social effects of alcohol are unprotected sex, pregnancy, STD’s, date rape.
- Up to 2/3 of date rape cases involve alcohol.
- There is nothing that will sober you up except time.
- It takes approximately 1 hour for each drink to be used by the body.
For more information visit:
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Alcohol
- Interactive Links and Resources from College Drinking – Changing the Culture
- Calculators – What is BAC? And what is it costing you? Check out the calculators and figure it out!
- Interactive Body – Trace the flow of alcohol through your body and see how it affects your organs and systems.
- Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. It is made up of dried parts of the Cannabis sativa hemp plant.
Pot, ganja, weed, grass, 420
Short-term effects of marijuana use include euphoria, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty thinking and solving problems.
Statistics and Trends
In 2009, 28.5 million Americans age 12 and older had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.4
The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 13.7% of 8th graders; 27.5% of 10th graders; and 34.8% of 12th graders had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.5
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Marijuana
- Marijuana Drug Facts
- Facts Parents Need to Know about Marijuana
Pills and Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug abuse is taking a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include opioids (for pain), central nervous system depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), meperidine (Demerol®), and diphenoxylate (Lomotil®). Central nervous system depressants include barbiturates such as pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®). Stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®), and amphetamines (Adderall®).
Oxy, cotton, blue, 40, 80 (OxyContin®)
Long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on amount taken, can depress breathing. Central nervous system depressants slow down brain function; if combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, or seizures.
Statistics and Trends
In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for non-medical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.4
The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 2.7% of 8th graders; 7.7% of 10th graders; and 8.0% of 12th graders had abused Vicodin, and 2.1% of 8th graders; 4.6% of 10th graders; and 5.1% of 12th graders had abused OxyContin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.5
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2007. Available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/. Accessed March 28, 2008.
2 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Drinking in America: Myths, Realities, and Prevention Policy. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2005. Available at http://www.udetc.org/documents/Drinking_in_America.pdf [PDF–1.08MB]. Accessed March 28, 2008.
3 Bonnie RJ and O’Connell ME, editors. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
4 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site).
5 Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Website)