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Preventing Underage Drinking

  • Change your environment. Think about where, when, and with whom you spend most of your time binge drinking. It can be difficult to cut down on drinking when you are constantly reminded of it. You may find it helpful to avoid certain bars or restaurants and limit your time socializing with others who also engage in binge drinking.

  • Weigh the pros and cons. Whenever you try to change a bad habit, your motivation level is likely to vary over time. Keeping a list close by of why you want to stop binge drinking can keep you motivated to quit.

  • Reward your accomplishments. Use positive reinforcement to reach your goals, such as doing something for yourself when you get through a period of time or special event without binge drinking. This reward will help keep you going and set new goals for yourself.

  • Enlist family and friends. Support from your family and friends can help you to quit or cut down on your alcohol use. They can also provide praise and other rewards when you do well.

  • Consider abstinence. Some people find that quitting alcohol altogether is more manageable than drinking occasionally. Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery help members abstain. Alcohol rehab programs, such as residential/inpatient and outpatient, can also help you reach your abstinence goals.

  • Set limits. If abstaining completely from alcohol does not feel right to you, try setting a limit on how much you drink. For example, you might consider reducing the amount you drink, only drinking on certain days or during certain hours, or avoiding particular types of alcohol. Also, consider asking family or friends to help you monitor your alcohol intake.

  • Finding alternative, healthier ways of coping. Many binge drinkers find that alcohol allows them to cope with negative feelings, such as stress, depression, anxiety, and boredom. Replace alcohol with healthier options, such as exercise, self-care, sports, hobbies, and connecting with others.

  • Attend a detox program. When a person who is physically dependent on alcohol attempts to quit, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. 7 In cases of heavy and frequent drinking, withdrawal can be dangerous and may lead to delirium tremens, including seizures, visual hallucinations, confusion, and possibly death. Detoxing under the supervision of a detox program allows for withdrawal symptoms to be closely monitored and managed through medications, if necessary.

  • Consider medication. In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings. Medications such as acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram may be prescribed.8 Disulfiram, also known by the brand name Antabuse, causes an unpleasant reaction when users drink alcohol, which can reduce the appeal of alcohol and serve as a motivator to stay sober. You can speak with your doctor to determine if medication is a good treatment for you.****

There are several programs and training that we offer to help in the prevention of adult binge drinking. Click on these pages to learn more:



* Sources: 

  1. Esser MB, Hedden SL, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Gfroerer JC, Naimi TS. Prevalence of alcohol dependence among US adult drinkers, 2009–2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:140329. doi:

  2. Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 national and state costs of excessive alcohol consumptionexternal icon. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(5):e73–e79.

  3. Stahre M, Roeber J, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Zhang X. Contribution of excessive alcohol consumption to deaths and years of potential life lost in the United States. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130293. doi:


**Source: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking pdf icon[PDF – 1.62MB]external icon. NIAAA Newsletter. 2004;3:3.

***Source: Kanny D, Naimi TS, Liu Y, Lu H, Brewer RD. Annual Total Binge Drinks Consumed by U.S. Adults, 2015external icon. Am J Prev Med 2018;54:486–496. 

**** Source: An American Addiction Resource - How to Stop Binge Drinking.

Content on this page was provided by the CDC Alcohol Fact Sheets - Binge Drinking

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

  • School problems, such as higher absences and poor or failing grades.

  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.

  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.

  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.

  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.

  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.

  • Physical and sexual assault.

  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls and drowning.

  • Memory problems.

  • Abuse of other drugs.

  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

  • Death from alcohol poisoning.

In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than those who do not binge drink.  Early initiation of drinking is associated with the development of an alcohol use disorder later in life.

Tips on Preventing Underage Drinking

Reducing underage drinking will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease youth access to alcohol. Recent publications by the Surgeon General and the Institute of Medicine outlined many prevention strategies for the prevention of underage drinking, such as the enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws, national media campaigns targeting youth and adults, increasing alcohol excise taxes, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs.


*Kann L, McManus T, Harris WA, et al. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2017. MMWR Surveill Summ 2018; 67(No. SS-8):1–114.

**Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables pdf icon[PDF-35MB].external icon Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD; 2017.

***Johnston, LD, Miech RA, O’Malley PM, Miech RA, Schulenberg JE, & Patrick ME. Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2017: 2017 Overview- Key findings on adolescent drug use pdf icon[PDF-4.4 MB]external icon. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan; 2018.

Content on this page was provided by CDC Facts Sheets - Underage Drinking

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