one young teenager boy or girl holding empty vodka alcohol bottl

The Risks of Underage Drinking

National Alcohol Screening Day is April 10th

According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs, and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth.

Most teens underestimate the problems that drinking alcohol can pose, and many do not realize that it can contribute to symptoms of depression. Alcohol may give you a buzz and make you feel more relaxed or at-ease, but alcohol is actually a depressant, which means it will decrease your energy, make you feel tired, and increase your risk of feeling even more depressed. Sometimes people turn to alcohol to try to feel better, but end up feeling worse when the effects of drinking wear off.

While it may seem like everyone is drinking, the reality is, the vast majority of teens are choosing to abstain. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

  •         39% drank some amount of alcohol.
  •         22% binge drank.
  •         8% drove after drinking alcohol.
  •         24% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.


While not everyone is drinking, for those who do, the risks are high. Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

  • -School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
  • -Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • -Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
  • -Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • -Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • -Abuse of other drugs.
  • -Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
  • -Death from alcohol poisoning.

Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem, including a teenager. In fact, drinking alcohol when you’re young raises your chances of becoming addicted as an adult.

Are you worried about yourself or a friend? Help is available. Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH), the pioneer in large-scale mental health screenings for the public, is holding National Alcohol Screening Day on April 10, 2014.

The 17th annual screening and education day raises awareness about alcohol misuse and abuse, while providing the public with beneficial screening and treatment resources. To help individuals assess their drinking habits, SMH is promoting, an online resource that offers anonymous screenings for alcohol abuse as well as resources for treatment and recovery.

The goal of National Alcohol Screening Day is for the public to think about how, when, and why they drink. For teenagers, it is especially important that they learn the unique risks that come with underage drinking. National Alcohol Screening Day highlights this important issue, and the anonymous, online screenings provide a non-threatening way for individuals to assess whether alcohol may be negatively impacting their health and life.

Visit, learn the facts, and think before you drink.