LEXINGTON, Ky. — While teen drinking has been on the decline for several years, in 2021 it was reported that 23% of high school students drank alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Males have historically had higher rates of drinking than females, but in recent years female teenagers have been drinking more than males. From the 2021 findings, 27% of teen girls were drinking alcohol compared to 19% of boys.
Representatives from both Students Against Destructive Decisions and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are unsure of why teen girls have been drinking more than boys, but have possible theories.
“You see a lot of advertising around wine and women and drinking,” said Carol Lucio, a regional manager for SADD.
“I think we see on social media all the time that women getting wine drunk, and it’s a thing that women drink wine every night to have fun, like, I think we have seen that so much in media, in movies, in TV and social media,” said Alex Otte, a regional executive director for MADD.
Exposure to seeing wine being marketed to women and the normalization of women drinking wine often along with peer pressure are among some of the potential factors that could be influencing girls.
“Young people are impressionable, and they want to model that behavior,” said Lucio.
SADD is a national organization that has chapters across the country, including Kentucky.
“SADD’s goal is really to encourage those positive decisions by young people,” said Lucio. “So we love to see our youth leading the way and helping their peers to understand what are good, positive decisions.”
While the data shows that overall teen drinking has decreased, Otte says that there is still work to be done.
“It’s really looking at, yes we think this has gone down and we’re very grateful for the data that says it has gone down but to us that’s not a reason to kind of take our foot off the gas,” said Otte.
Both organizations aim to end underage drinking.
“Alcohol use or even any other substance use can lead to impairment as it relates to safe driving, as it relates to healthy relationships, and being safe as a whole so we encourage young people to be as safe as possible and so sober-minded is included in that,” said Lucio.
“People who start drinking earlier in life are significantly more likely to become alcohol dependent or to become a drunk driver,” said Otte.
While teenagers may not be thinking about the consequences of their choices, there are certain decisions that can have a lasting impact on them and possibly other people.
MADD has resources and information on its website to learn more about teen drinking and ways to address this issue.
SADD also has information on its website to learn about the programs it offers for drinking and other issues that can put young people at risk.