The recent release of the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration shows that although underage drinking remains a persistent problem among youth, there are strong indications that efforts to fight underage drinking are working.

According to the newly released survey, about 10.1 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption. This represents 26 percent of this age group for whom alcohol is illegal. The rates of past month alcohol consumption by those aged 12-20 all declined from the previous year. In 2008, 26.4 percent of 12-20 year olds reported drinking alcohol in the past month – a decrease of 5 percent, while 17.4 percent reported that they participated in binge drinking – a decrease of 6.5 percent. Additionally, 5.5 percent of 12-20 year olds used alcohol heavily in the past month, defined as binge drinking five or more days in the past month – a decrease of 8.3 percent. All of these figures represent the largest single year decrease for each respective category.

While the decreases are a positive sign, there is still much more work to do. One such area is among students in college drinking, where the pattern of higher rates of consumption among full-time college students (18-22 year olds) has remained relatively unchanged since 2002.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility will continue its comprehensive efforts to ensure that underage drinking continues to decline.