Skip to content

Talk about alcohol


Alcohol Fact File

The dangers of alcohol for young people

Young people are less well equipped than adults to cope with the effects of alcohol, physically and emotionally. The same amount of alcohol will have a much greater effect on the body of a child or young person than on an adult, because their bodies are still growing and developing. Also, a young person doesn't have the experience needed to deal with the effects of alcohol on judgement and perception.

In the short-term, drinking and getting drunk can be dangerous for young people. They may do or say something they regret later, and they're much more likely to have an accident or get into trouble. Drinking a lot in one session can be harmful because the human body can't process a lot of alcohol at once. In the UK, drinking to get drunk is called 'binge drinking' - that means drinking more than double the amount advised for adults at least once a week. This harmful effect is especially true for under age drinkers because they can't cope with alcohol as well as adults.

In the longer term, drinking can have a negative effect on a young person's school work, social life and friendships, as well as their general health. They'll also be in trouble if they break the laws about buying and drinking alcohol.

Because of these dangers, there are NO safe limits for alcohol consumption for the under age. The Chief Medical Officer has issued guidelines (2009) recommending that parents should try and keep their children’s lives alcohol free until age 15, and that then any drinking should be with parental supervision and within the government daily sensible drinking guidelines of 2-3 units for women and 3-4 for men.


An NHS survey in 2009 found that 22% of all admissions to hospital A and E are alcohol related and in 2007, 6,541 deaths in England were directly related to alcohol consumption.

Treating alcohol-related conditions cost the NHS approximately £2.7 billion in 2006/07. In 2007/08, there were 62,400 admissions where the primary diagnosis was wholly attributable to alcohol in England

Alcohol misuse is a factor in 30% of suicides each year.

There are over 470 drink-driving deaths each year and 22% of accidental deaths are alcohol related

Around half of all violent crimes, and a third of domestic violence incidents, are linked to alcohol misuse.

Marriages with alcohol problems are twice as likely to end in divorce

In a recent survey, 14% of 15 and 16 year olds in the UK had been drunk 20 times or more during the last 12 months and 50% have been drunk at least twice.

58% of 15 year olds who had drunk alcohol recently had suffered negative consequences such as getting into an argument, been ill, missing school, been injured or in trouble with the police

It is estimated that 360,000 children aged 11-15 had been drunk in the last week.

Source: Source:NHS confederation briefing 2010 and NHS statistics on England 09 and DCSF Children, Young People and Alcohol consultation 2009.

back to Alcohol fact file

Treating alcohol-related conditions cost the NHS approximately £3.5 billion in 2013/14.

Source: PHE Alcohol treatment in England 2013-14
Skip to navigation