Guest blog by Brenda Patoine
Underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the United States. While rates of underage drinking have declined steadily in the past decade or so, the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that among US youth 12 to 20 years old surveyed about their alcohol use in the past 30 days, 20% reported drinking alcohol and 13% reported binge drinking. Adolescents account for approximately 11 percent of total alcohol consumption in the U.S., according to a CDC fact sheet on underage drinking.
Because the teenage brain is at a highly vulnerable stage of development, early drinking may set the stage for later alcohol abuse. The frontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until around age 25, and emerging data suggest that this executive area of the brain is particularly susceptible to damage from alcohol use during adolescence.