Alcohol can put young people at serious risk of harm, whether they are drinking themselves or being affected by the drinking of a parent or other adult in their lives.

The current scientific evidence is that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. Young people's bodies and brains are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol because they are still growing and developing.

Drinking can cause short and long-term harm to health, as well as put young people in risky situations when drunk. Research shows that the earlier a young person starts drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to drink in ways that can be harmful later in life.


Under-age drinking

The Health and Wellbeing Census Scotland provides national level data on physical and mental health, drinking, drug use and lifestyle issues amongst Scotland’s secondary school children.

The Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22 shows:

  • Nearly half (43.9%) of S2 and S4 pupils have ever had an alcoholic drink.
  • A fifth (20.1%) of S2 and S4 pupils said they usually drank alcohol at least once a month. This reached a third for older S4 pupils (33.3%).
  • Girls (21.8%). were slightly more likely to have drunk monthly than boys (18.4%).
  • Almost 1 in 3 (32.3%) S4 pupils get their alcohol from a friend or relative, while (30%) reported getting their alcohol from home (either with or without permission).

The figures

of Scots drink at hazardous or harmful levels (more than 14 units a week)