Underage Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

Underage Drinking and Alcohol Abuse Facts and Figures

It is expected that youth will try new things, but trying alcohol at a young age can be riskier than you might think. More than two decades of research from the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that alcohol causes severe and possibly lasting brain damage in people under the age of 21. This is of great concern because some children on Guam try alcohol for the first time at the age of 8.


Learn more about alcohol & your brain.

Alcohol used by minors because it affects the bodies and minds of young people more than adults. Why? Because young people’s bodies are smaller, the same amount of alcohol hits them harder. Young people also are growing, so alcohol can change the way the brain and other organs develop.

Learn more about alcohol & your body.

Advertisements try to make drinking seem “cool” and fun. Research clearly indicates that alcohol advertising and marketing strategies have a significant impact by influencing the attitudes of parents, youth and their peers and helping to create an environment that promotes underage drinking. Parents and peers have a large impact on youth decisions to drink.

Learn more about alcohol advertising & youth.

According to experts, if you are a male who has five or more drinks in a row or you are a female who has four or more drinks in a row, then you can be classified as a binge drinker.

Did you know? It takes the body TWO hours to process the alcohol in one drink, whether it is...

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Hard Cider
  • Malt Beverage
  • Wine Cooler

Learn more about the dangers of binge drinking.

Alcohol Poisoning: What you need to know

  • Alcohol poisoning is a severe elevation of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which may lead to coma and death, resulting from consumption of large amounts of alcohol.
  • Everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol. What is relatively safe for one person can be lethal for another. Some people have died after drinking the same amount of alcohol as their friends who survived.
  • A young person who consumes five or more drinks at one time can die by gagging on his or her own vomit or by passing out and lapsing into a coma.
  • Young people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at the age of 21

Warning Signs of Alcohol Poisoning...

These are the common signs of alcohol poisoning. Watch out if a friend, acquaintance, or family member...

  • drinks excessively (four or five drinks in one sitting)
  • does not respond to being talked to or shouted at
  • does not respond to being pinched, prodded, or poked
  • won't wake up despite repeated attempts
  • vomits while passed out and doesn't wake up after vomiting
  • has slow breathing (fewer than six breaths per minute)
  • has bluish or purplish skin, or skin that appears flushed
  • has clammy skin, or skin that feels cool to the touch
  • has an irregular pulse rate, or if the pulse becomes slower than 40 beats per minute
  • has an irregular heart rhythm, with the heart beating unusually slowly or unusually quickly

You may have friends who have tried alcohol. You may hear people brag about what they drink. But you don’t have to drink alcohol to fit in. The fact is that most pre-teens and teens aren’t drinking alcohol.

YRBS Reports...

  • Over one-quarter of Guam’s high school students had their first alcoholic drink before the age of 13
  • 17 % of middle school students had their first alcoholic drink before the age of 11
  • Over one-third of high school students are current drinkers
  • Youth males have a higher prevalence of binge drinking than females

Parents, Students, & Communities CAN STOP Underage Drinking..


At Home...

  • Make rules about alcohol use - no one under the legal age is allowed to drink alcoholic beverages (wine cooler, beer, wine etc..) with NO exceptions! Establish rules and consequences that you and your child(ren) agree on.

  • Keep any alcohol you have at home out of reach or locked up and away from children

  • Set a good example as an adult or parent - don’t drink to the point of intoxication, don’t drink and drive, “practice what you preach.”

  • Know your child’s friends and their parents. Talk to them about the rules in their house and make sure you all agree.

  • Know where your children are going and make sure there is appropriate supervision.

  • Talk with your children about alcohol and LISTEN to them. They know where and when underage drinking happens and how easy it is to obtain alcohol.

  • Support your child. If they break a rule and choose to drink, let them know they can call you and you will help them be safe. Save lectures and punishments for later when everyone has had a chance to calm down.

  • TRUST your child to follow the rules you have established together.


At School...

  • Make the choice to not drink! You are not alone. Find support from others who have also made the same choice.

  • Be straight with your friends and peers that you do not drink. Even though they might not show it, they will respect you for making that decision and sticking to it no matter what.

  • Know you CAN have a good time with your friends without drinking. Offer to help them make the right choice by doing things together.

  • Support your friends. If they choose to drink, let them know that you are still willing to be friends if they want support and help that does not involve alcohol.

  • Join or form a SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) group or other group so that your peers can find support and plan fun activities for students who don’t drink, and can offer same support and fun to students who do.


In Your Neighborhood…
  • Talk with your neighbors and let them know your house is a “safe house” - no underage drinking allowed.

  • Form a “neighborhood alliance.” Know which parents allow underage drinking in the house and which parents don’t. Don’t exclude these neighbors, but let them know that you don’t support underage drinking and will not allow your child to stay at their house as long as they allow underage drinking.

  • As an adult, let the other students in the neighborhood know that you are willing to help them should they have a problem with alcohol.

  • As a student, let your friends and peers know they can rely on you should they drink and need help, but that you don’t support their choice to drink.

  • Show your peers you can have fun without drinking - have parties at your house, plan group events, etc.

In Your Community…

  • Do a “community scan” - how many alcohol billboards, outlets, advertisements, etc. Do you see? How close are they to schools, churches, parks, and other community places? How many billboards and outlets do families and children see every day? Take this information to your village mayor, school board, legislators and others.

  • Attend local ATC (Alcohol and Tobacco Commission) meetings, they are held at least once a month. You can protest alcohol licenses and places that are a “nuisance.” It only takes a few hundred signatures or a few people to testify to make a difference! To find out more call the Department of Revenue & Taxation - Alcohol Beverage Control Enforcement Branch at 475-1802/5.

  • Meet with your senators and/or to talk about your concerns. They need to know where minors are able to get alcohol in the community. Here are some things you can consider doing:

    • Use LOCAL regulations and land use powers to control the number of outlets and advertising.

    • Use PROMOTION regulations to reduce exposure to alcohol - ban billboards and ads, restrict or ban outdoor advertising, ban alcohol sponsorship or advertising at family events.

    • Use PRODUCT regulations to reduce access to alcohol.

    • Use PRICE regulations to reduce alcohol consumption.