Adolescent girls' alcohol usage rates

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Research on Alcohol Consumption by Girls

Research shows that before starting high school, about one-third of girls in the US consume their first alcoholic beverage. According to surveys, girls are drinking at younger ages than ever before. In the 1990s, 7% of girls reported consuming their first alcoholic beverage between the ages of 11 and 15. (Schinke, Fang, & Cole, 2008). The majority of females now begin consuming alcohol at a young age; in fact, research suggest that almost a quarter of all girls begin drinking before the age of 13. About half of all girls in high school takes alcohol, 1 in every four girls takes more than one type of drink on the same occasion (Johnston, O'Malley, Miech, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2016). Early drinking of alcohol by girls is a problem that should be dealt with according since those who starts drinking at an early age are likely to become heavy drinkers later in their lives.

Drug Use and Substance Abuse among Teenage Girls

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSGHU), most teenage girls shows distinctive susceptibilities to drug use and substances. Marijuana is the most used illegal drug by girls. The study confirms that teenage girls are catching up with teenage boys in regards to the use of drugs and substances. In some cases, the usage of drugs by girls have surpassed that of boys; this is true in cases such as in cigarette smoking. In the year 2013, approximately 24.6 million kids age 12 years old were using illicit drugs in America. This estimate is a representation of about 9.5 percent of all kids aged 12 and above. In 2013, the percentage of illegal drugs used by kids (9.5 percent) was similar to that of 2013 (8.9 percent) and that of 2012 (9.2 percent). These three years have a bit higher level than in the year 2002, 2009, and 2011, whose rate ranged between 7.9 to 8.7 percent (Abuse, 2013).

Differences in Alcohol Consumption Between Girls and Boys

In the year 2005, the rate of girls who had taken alcohol in the previous year was approximately 57 percent; this rate falls back to 55 percent and 53 percent in the year 2007 and 2008 respectively. During this period, the rate of boys using alcohol continued to fall to about 5 percent, but these changes were not significant statistically (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). According to another study, the number of boys who admitted to being drunk in the last 30 days has dramatically changed when compared to that of girls. For instance, in 1998, about 30 percent of boys reported having consumed alcohol in the last 30 day, while only 26.6 percent of adolescents girls reported having consumed alcohol in the last 30 days (Johnston et al., 2016). This changed ten years later, in that, the percentage of boys continued to fall, while that of girls remained almost constant. For instance, in 2008, the percentage of boys had fallen to about 29.2, while that of girls had maintained to about 26.3 percent. The numbers continue to fall for both girls and boys, but they fall dramatically for boys, the fall represents 25 percent fall for boys, but only 1 percent for girls. Boys are dropping while girls are staying kind of level.

Factors Influencing Alcohol Consumption among Girls

For many years, boys have been the main focus of underage alcohol drinking interventions. However, this has changed for the last few years, the rate of girls is surpassing that of boys. According to researchers, today drinks are added substances to make them tastier and easy to drink, there are beverages which are sugar-laden which are known as Alco-pops, and this are factors that are driving more girls into drinking. It is a known factor that girls like consuming sweeter things, thus, these sweet beverages are attracting them, and they are slowly turning young girls into drunkards. In the last 10 to 12 years, there are a lot of new raft products that have been produced, and they were oriented to young girls. Girls are now buying alcohol as a functional food; it is being sold with information on calories, fitness benefits, and other health benefits.

The Influence of Alcohol Advertisements on Girls

According to longitudinal data, exposure of girls to alcohol advertisements motivates girls to start drinking alcohol while they are in the 7th grade. Most girls are susceptible to alcohol-branded merchandise, (ABM). Girls who are aged 10 to 14 and they own ABM were 3.3 times more likely to start taking alcohol than those who do not win an ABM. According to this study, there was no relationship between starting to drink in boys and the ABM (Riggs, 2008). According to NSDUH, 18 percent of young females were reported taking alcohol in 2004; these number was higher than that of the boys, which was about 17.2 percent.

Factors Contributing to Drug and Substance Abuse among Girls

The main driver for taking drugs and substances have been identified to be stress; most young females take drugs to relieve stresses. Other key factors include depression, appearance and concerns about weight, risky sexual behaviors, anxiety, conduct disorder, sexual and physical abuse, and early puberty. In 2004, more than twice females reported being affected by depression than boys (Mays, DePadilla, Thompson, Kushner & Windle, 2010). This makes the young females to starts taking drugs to raise their self-esteem. Another factor that leads to alcohol drinking in girls is peer pressure, teen friends have a substantial influence on each other, but it is more intense on girls than it is for boys when it comes to drinking alcohol (McCaffrey & McNair). Most girls tend to drink so that they can fit a certain group, which is the opposite of boys, who drinks generally for other motives, and then later they join a group that takes alcohol.


In conclusion, today, young females have caught up with boys in alcohol and illegal drug use, they have even outdone boys in prescription drugs and cigarette. Also, there are more new female users of drugs and substances than boys. ONDCP confirmed that even though the number of teens using drugs and substances is declining steadily, girls continue to display vulnerabilities that can lead to drugs and substance use. Also, the researchers have confirmed that alcohol and other drugs use to have more significant effects on girls than in boys, both psychologically and physically. According to the director of ONDCP, teenage girls are aware of the effects of drugs on their health, but they continue using them anyway. Using drugs and substances, particularly at the teenage level, which is an important stage of development in girls, can lead to serious problems in the body and the brain of the girl. Parents need to understand the serious consequences that are as a result of these drugs so that they can be able to help keep them away from them.


Abuse, S. (2013). Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings. In NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No.(SMA) 13-4795. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Rockville, MD. Retrieved from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2013). Vital signs: binge drinking among women and high school girls--United States, 2011. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 62(1), 9.

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2016). Demographic subgroup trends among adolescents in the use of various licit and illicit drugs, 1975–2015 (Monitoring the Future Occasional Paper No. 86). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at

Mays, D., DePadilla, L., Thompson, N. J., Kushner, H. I., & Windle, M. (2010). Sports participation and problem alcohol use: a multi-wave national sample of adolescents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38(5), 491-498.

McCaffrey, W. H. D. P. D., & McNair, T. R. H. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Executive Office of the President Washington, DC 20503. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/Grission/Downloads/Girls_and_Drugs.pdf

Riggs, P. (2008). Non-medical use and abuse of commonly prescribed medications. Current medical research and opinion, 24(3), 869-877.

Schinke, S. P., Fang, L., & Cole, K. C. (2008). Substance use among early adolescent girls: risk and protective factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(2), 191-194.

March 23, 2023

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