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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services

For Those We Serve

Substance Abuse Services

Underage Drinking

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 is a major public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. (more than tobacco and illicit drugs) Although it is illegal to drink under age 21, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

More than 90% of underage drinking is binge drinking. For males, drinking five or more drinks in a row in the previous two weeks is considered binge drinking. For femailes it is four or more drinks in a row. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2008, across the nation there were about 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.

In North Carolina, the North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking initiative works to reduce underage drinking. The project focuses on helping community members work together.

Talk It Up. Lock It Up! is a campaign to address the issue of unknowingly providing alcohol to a person who is underage.
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