Myth: Alcohol Companies Don’t Advertise to Youth

  • The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that youth exposure to alcohol ads increased over 70% between 2001 and 2009 – more than the exposure to adults.1
  • The average teenager is exposed to over 80 references to substance abuse per day by the media, making alcohol and other drug use seem normal and acceptable.1


Myth: Alcohol Use is a Rite of Passage

  • The younger you start using alcohol the more likely you are to become addicted.2
  • Everyone is not drinking! In Kentucky, over 64% of high school seniors have not had any alcohol in the past 30 days.3


Myth: Drinking and Driving is the Biggest Risk of Underage Drinking

  • Teen brains don’t finish developing until the early 20s, making teen brains vulnerable to long-term damage from alcohol use.4,5,6
  • 40% of those who reported drinking before age-15 indicated alcohol dependence at some point in their lives, a percentage that was 4x higher than that reported by those who started drinking at age-217
  • Teens who drink are more likely to have problems in school, get in fights with friends and get in fights with parents.8
  • Regionally, data indicates that 27% of 12th graders have reported blacking out from drinking or drug use. That’s scary!3
  • On average, alcohol is a factor in the deaths of approximately 4,700 youth in the United States per year.8


Myth: Anyone can stop drinking if they really want to

  • False! Addiction is a disease that causes permanent changes in the brain. Once the brain has become addicted, it thinks that alcohol is necessary in order to live. Trying to quit drinking is like trying to quit breathing.9
  • Often, people will have to see a doctor or a mental health practitioner for help and they will need a lot of support from family, friends and society.9


Myth: The National 21-Minimum Drinking Age Law (21-MDAL) is unfair

  • Following the 21-MDAL, alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving 16-20 year olds dropped, while unfortunately all other traffic fatalities increased (1983-1989). The 21-MDAL reduced underage drinking. When we had different age states, those under 21 in states with lower drinking ages drank significantly more, and were drunk more often than students in states with a drinking age of 21. New research shows alcohol is especially harmful to the teen brain, which does not quit developing until the early to mid 20s. 10



  1. Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth; 
  2. International Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco (IDAT) Research Journal;
  3. 2012 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention Survey;
  4. Office of the Surgeon General. (2007). The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking(PDF 1.41MB) Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  5. Office of the Surgeon General. (2007). The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide for Families (PDF 900KB) Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Reach Out Now Teach-In Lesson Plan
  7. Grant BF, Dawson DA. Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. J Subst Abuse 1997;9:103–10.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011  
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse;
  10. DeJong, W., and Blanchette, J. Case closed: Research evidence on the positive public health impact of the age 21 minimum legal drinking age in the United States. Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs Supplement 17:108–115, 2014. PMID: 24565317