Is Teen Drinking Always A Bad Thing?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear Is Teen Drinking Always A Bad Thing?,

Is it possible for a teen to drink and not have it be for unhealthy reasons? I know that it is illegal, but most info on teen drinking is negative and depicts it as only being a bad thing. Is it always?

Dear Is Teen Drinking Always A Bad Thing?,

TeenHealthFX can appreciate that when it comes to drinking there are teens out there who may be thinking, “What is the big deal? Is it really that unhealthy or that big of a problem?” FX can also appreciate that teens are bombarded with so much information on the dangers of smoking, drinking and drug use, that some might end up tuning out the information – feeling like it’s just adults making mountains out of molehills.

FX wants to stress that the information we provide about potential problems with drinking or drug use is not because we are looking to spoil fun, we just want to give teens a hard time, or we are looking to make rules just for the sake of having rules – but rather because we want teens to understand the research and information that is out there so they can make decisions that are healthiest for them.

That said, FX does want to start by presenting some potential problems with underage drinking:

  • Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among young people. Each year approximately 5,000 people under 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This include about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.
  • Underage drinking can harm the growing brain. More and more research is being done around brain development – and studies have made it clear that the brain continues to develop from birth through adolescence and into the mid 20s.
  • Underage drinking can affect the body in various negative ways – anything from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning (a problem especially connected with binge drinking).
  • Underage drinking can lead to other problems such as poor academic performance, run-ins with the law, drug use, not being able to play on team sports through school, or even things like missing out on the prom or other school events if there were drinking incidents related to anything through school.
  • Drinking affects judgment, which can lead to teens doing things they might not have if sober. Examples could be a teen thinking he could drive when he shouldn’t be, getting in the car with someone who has been drinking, having sex with someone they might not have if sober, or not using protection when having sex.


If we were to ask some of the teens out there who don't think drinking is a big deal, why they drink, some might say it helps them to have more fun or makes hanging out with friends a better time. However, with these kinds of responses, FX would challenge them to consider why alcohol is necessary to accomplish these kinds of things. Is it really that hard to have fun without drinking, to bond with friends without alcohol, and to enjoy life sober? If so, FX thinks that alcohol is not the answer and people should be looking a little deeper for an answer.

FX thinks there are certainly reasons why teens drink – they might include reducing stress, fitting in with peers, wanting to feel older, or having parents who are more permissive of drinking – but they are not necessarily healthy reasons.


For more information, read Underage Drinking, NIAAA and TeensHealth article on Alcohol.