Teenage girl looks into the fridge at beer and wine.

Risks & Warning Signs of Underage Drinking


The more you know about the risks associated with youth drinking, the more you can educate the youth you care for.

Teens who drink are more likely to:

  • use drugs
  • have academic problems
  • suffer injury or death
  • engage in risky sexual activity
  • experience changes in brain development that may have lifelong effects
  • have mental health problems

Warning Signs

Not sure if a youth you are caring for is drinking alcohol? Here are some of the warning signs to look out for:

  • Behavioral indicators of drunkenness, unusual/uncharacteristic behavior, slurred speech, coordination problems, and memory and/or concentration problems.
  • Changes in school performance. Alcohol use is often linked to poor academic performance.
  • Social indicators like changes in friend groups or disinterest in activities that the young person once enjoyed.


Alert IconNearly a quarter, 18.8 percent, of DC youth first used alcohol before they turned 13.