Start the Conversation For Underage Drinking – Myths Versus Facts

Did you know that alcohol is the most widely misused substance among America’s youth? To help increase awareness about this serious issue, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention offers an updated fact sheet, Underage Drinking: Myths Versus Facts, specifically written for preteens and teens.  This fact sheet compares common myths about alcohol use with the facts about the prevalence of alcohol use. Share this resource with our youth to start the conversation and spread the word about underage drinking and alcohol misuse.  Download the Fact Sheet

Myth

All of the other kids drink alcohol. You need to drink to fit in.

Fact

Don’t believe the hype: Most young people don’t drink alcohol! Research shows that almost 80 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds haven’t had a drink in the past month.


Myth

Drinking alcohol will make people like you.

Fact

There’s nothing likable about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol can also make your breath smell bad and cause you to gain weight.


Myth

Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.

Fact

Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act foolish, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do. In fact, drinking can increase the likelihood of fights and sexual assaults.


Myth

Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.

Fact

Your brain doesn’t stop growing until about age 25, and drinking can affect how it develops.3 Plus, alcohol increases your risk for many diseases, such as cancer.4 It can also cause you to have accidents and get injured, sending you to the emergency room.


Myth

Beer and wine are safer than liquor.

Fact

Alcohol is alcohol. A 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a shot of liquor (1.5 ounces) all have the same amount of alcohol.


Myth

You can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.

Fact

There’s no magic cure to help you sober up. On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to make it through your body.7 And there’s nothing you can do to make that happen quicker.


Myth

There’s no reason to wait until you’re 21 to drink.

Fact

When you’re young, drinking alcohol can make learning new things more difficult.  Also, people who begin drinking before they turn 15 are more likely to develop a drinking problem at some point in their lives than those who begin drinking at age 21 or older,9 when it is legal to drink in all states and Washington, D.C.


Myth

You can drink alcohol and you won’t get into trouble.

Fact

All states and Washington, D.C., have 21-year-old minimum-drinking-age laws.11 If you get caught drinking, you might have to pay a fine, do community service, take alcohol awareness classes, or even spend time in jail.