Underage drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America’s youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.

    The consequences of underage drinking can affect everyone—regardless of age or drinking status.

    Either directly or indirectly, we all feel the effects of aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking. This is not simply a problem for some families—it is a nationwide concern.

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    Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

    Adolescence is a time of change and growth, including behavior changes. These changes are usually a normal part of growing up but sometimes can point to an alcohol problem. Parents, families, and teachers should pay close attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking:16

    • Changes in mood, including anger and irritability

    • Academic and/or behavioral problems in school

    • Rebelliousness

    • Changing groups of friends

    • Low energy level

    • Less interest in activities and/or care in appearance

    • Finding alcohol among a young person’s things

    • Smelling alcohol on a young person’s breath

    • Problems concentrating and/or remembering

    • Slurred speech

    • Coordination problems