Underage Drinking

Underage drinking

Underage Drinking Facts

A 2019 survey of Idaho students found:

  • 39% said they have had at least one drink in their lifetime
  • 14.7% said they had at least one drink in the past 30 days
  • 37.5% said it would be easy for them to get some alcohol
  • 35% said a friend gave them alcohol
  • 27.7% said a family member gave them alcohol
  • When asked where they drank alcohol, 53% of Idaho students say they drank at home
*Data from Idaho Healthy Youth Survey 2019 State Report

How to tell if your child is drinking

There are various signs of underage drinking. Some signs of underage drinking include youth being unusually clumsy or uncoordinated, slurred speech, smelling alcohol on their breath, changes in mood, secretive behavior, breaking curfew, experiencing new problems at school, or changes in relationships with family or friends. Other signs include alcohol going missing or finding alcohol hidden in their room, backpack, or car.

Why youth might start drinking

There are a variety of reasons why youth may start drinking. They include:

  • Peer pressure: teens may feel pressure to drink if their friends are drinking or if they think that it is normal behavior
  • Stress: alcohol may be used as a way to forget about their stress or problems
  • Transitions: major life events such as changing schools, a breakup, or parental divorce may lead to underage drinking
  • Parent attitudes: teens may start drinking if their parents don't model responsible drinking behaviors or if they allow their underage children to drink
  • Curiosity: with alcohol being popular in music and movies, teens may be curious about trying alcohol

Underage drinking risks

  • Safety risks: Underage drinking is dangerous and has many safety risks. Underage drinking leads to an increased likelihood of accidents and injuries, poor judgment and decision-making, and higher chances of unwanted, unplanned, or unprotected sexual activity. Underage drinking can also lead to drinking and driving, leading to safety risks for themselves and others. Youth may also drink excessively, which may cause alcohol poisoning or even death
  • Brain development: Teenagers are still undergoing brain development. Drinking alcohol interferes with this brain development and can cause learning and memory impairment. Youth who drink are also more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
  • Substance dependency: Youth who drink are more likely to use other substances and have a high risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life
  • Legal risks: Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and may result in legal consequences or fines

*Be The Parents: The Risks of Teen Drinking - Be The Parents

How you can help prevent underage drinking

There are many ways parents, peers, and the community can help prevent underage drinking. As a community, we can work to normalize not drinking as a minor and reduce peer pressure.

To learn more about how parents and guardians can help prevent underage drinking, visit BeTheParents.org at this link: Prevent Underage Drinking - Be The Parents

Public Health - Idaho North Central District
215 10th Street
Lewiston, ID 83501

Phone: (208) 799-3100
Fax: (208) 799-0349

Idaho Careline: 211

EPI ISSUES: 1-800-632-8000
For medical emergencies dial: 911.


All information is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for appropriate professional advice.

For more information please call (208) 799-3100 or Idaho Careline: 211.

Idaho Public Health

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