Teen Alcohol Related Deaths

Accidents related to alcohol use are among the leading causes of death for teens. Car accidents are the main type of deadly accidents that can occur due to teenage alcohol use, but other alcohol-related deaths occur every year. Keep reading for more on teen alcohol related deaths.

Though many teens, and sometimes their parents, think that drinking won't hurt them, alcohol use leads to more teen deaths than any other single factor. Parents and teens should understand the dangers of teen alcohol use and why it is important for teens to avoid using alcohol.

Some statistics about teen alcohol related deaths show some of the dangers of teen alcohol use:

  • About 5000 teens die every year due to teen alcohol use.
  • Teens are more likely than adults to drink too much when they drink, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, and one-third to one-half of those accidents are alcohol-related
  • Over 2000 young people die every year in alcohol-related car crashes.
  • In the US, on average, someone dies in an alcohol-related accident every 45 minutes, according to the CDC.
  • Teens who have been drinking are more likely than older drivers who have been drinking to get in an accident.
  • Fatal drunk driving accidents are more likely to occur at nights and on weekends.
  • More than 1 in 4 teens have ridden with a driver who has been drinking.
  • Drinking can worsen depression and mental problems, resulting in about 300 teen alcohol-related suicides each year.
  • Teens who are drinking are more likely to have unprotected sex, which can lead to potentially fatal sexually transmitted diseases, as well as unwanted pregnancies.
  • Teens who drink are more likely to carry weapons and get into fights, which leads to alcohol-related homicides.
  • Overdrinking, which is more common among teens than older drinkers, can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

In addition to the teens who are killed in alcohol-related deaths, many teens every year are injured or disabled in alcohol-related accidents. Teens who survive drunk driving accidents where others were killed often live with guilt for their rest of their lives, especially if they were the driver. Teens who drink are also more likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems, which can shorten their lives.

Thanks to efforts to educate teens and enforce minimum drinking ages, the number of teens involved in alcohol-related deaths has declined in recent years. The numbers are still too high, however, so it's important for parents and friends to do their part to discourage teen drinking:

  • Parents and friends should explain to the teen that drinking is dangerous, and that they care about the teen and don't want to see him or her get hurt.
  • Parents should keep the lines of communication open with their teens, and ask questions about where teens are going, who they will be with, and what they will be doing when teens go out.
  • Parents should have strict rules against drinking, with reasonable consequences that are enforced if the rule is ever broken, like losing driving privileges or being grounded from activities with friends. It may help if teens help to come up with the consequences.
  • Teens should never get into the car with a driver who has been drinking, even if the person only had one drink or seems okay. Riding with drunk passengers is also dangerous.
  • Teens should have someone they can call for a ride if they're ever stuck somewhere or their driver decides to drink. They should also have a way to call for help, such as carrying a cell phone or money for a pay phone or a cab.
  • Parents should set a good example by limiting when and how much alcohol they consume, and by never driving when they have had even one drink.
  • Parents and other adults should never provide alcohol to teens.

Though teen alcohol related deaths from car accidents is more likely for teens as they approach driving age, other types of teen alcohol-related accidents and deaths can occur even before teens start driving. This means it's important for parents to start talking to their children about not drinking before they even reach their teen years. If teens have already started drinking and can't stop on their own, they may need professional help to overcome their drinking problem and avoid becoming another statistic about teen drinking.


Federal Trade Commission, We Don't Serve Teens, "Dangers of Teen Drinking" [online]

SAMHSA Family Guide, "December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month" [online]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Motor Vehicle Safety, "Impaired Driving" [online]

Kathleen Boyce Rodgers, University of Tennessee Extension, "What to Know About Teen Alcohol and Other Drug Use" [online]

Nemours, TeensHealth, "Alcohol" [online]

Students Against Destructive Decisions, "Statistics" [online]

Related Article: Teenage Drinking and Driving >>