Content Map Terms

Alcohol and Youth




We may send mixed messages to young people about alcohol.

Alcohol is sometimes linked to death in the media. At other times, it’s linked to fun and presented as “normal” adult behaviour. We may drink when socializing or to manage stress.

When teens start drinking

Your older teen might first try alcohol for a new and interesting experience. They are curious about how it will affect their thinking and behaviour. Some other reasons youth might use alcohol could be to fight boredom, or if they are feeling socially isolated and want to fit in. Sometimes they don’t have a good reason to not drink. Sports, hobbies or important goals can give young people a reason to focus on things other than drinking.

Drinking too much

The younger teens are when they start drinking too much or too often, the more likely they are to get hurt or develop problems with alcohol later in life. Frequent use by young teens can be harmful and, at the wrong time and in the wrong dose and wrong place, even fatal.

Binge drinking puts young adults at risk of falls, accidents, violence and unwanted sexual activity.

When young adults are binging regularly, it could be a sign that something is troubling them, or a sign that they’ve set up some unhealthy habits. They may need help to break their habit.

Your older teen may be using alcohol to help cope with anxiety or depression. But alcohol can make things worse, especially if there’s a history of mental illness.

Ways to prevent problems

Prevention starts early and in your home. Your family needs to think about their own drinking patterns and consumption levels. Young people often develop drinking patterns like those of the adults in their lives.

An open, loving and attentive family gives young people the message that they’re loved, giving them more confidence and a stronger sense of self-worth. They can handle peer pressure better, and they’re better able to overcome problems at school and at home.

When a young person needs help

Sometimes love and attention won’t be enough to prevent a drinking problem. If a young adult you know is struggling:

  • Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Referral Service at 1-800-663-1441 (toll-free in BC) or 604-660-9382 (in Greater Vancouver).
  • Call the Kelty Resource Centre at 1-800-665-1822 (toll-free in BC) or 604-875-2084 (in Greater Vancouver) for information and support for young people and their families, including substance use and addictions.
  • Check out HeretoHelp for more information on how to help your teen


Last Updated: November 3, 2013