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Though progress is being made, underage drinking remains a persistent problem. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 8.7 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents 23% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal. Among 12-20 year olds, reported rates of past month consumption, binge drinking and heavy alcohol all declined between 2002 and 2013.

According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study alcohol consumption among the nations’ 8th, 10th and 12th graders continues to decline, with all three grade levels showing a decrease in the prevalence rate of lifetime, annual, past 30-day consumption.  Even more significant is the continued decline in binge drinking – dropping to a record low 12 percent for all three grade levels combined.

Underage Drinking – National Statistics

For over two decades the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has been leading the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking. While rates have declined, alcohol consumption among youth under the legal drinking age remains a concern.

The rate of current alcohol consumption increases with increasing age according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1% at age 12 to 18% at age 16, and 52% at age 20.

 

Drinking Patterns 2014

8th-12th Grade Drinking Patterns 2014

Current Underage Drinking

 

Monitoring Future Chart Current

 

Eighth Grade Students

8th Grade Drinking-Past Month

Tenth Grade Students

10th Grade Drinking-Past Month

Twelfth Grade Students

12th Grade Drinking-Past Month

College Students

College Drinking-Past Month-2013

Binge Drinking

 

Eighth Grade Students

8th Grade Drinking-Binge drinking

Tenth Grade Students

10th Grade Drinking-Binge drinking

Twelfth Grade Students

12th Grade Drinking-Binge drinking

College Students

College Drinking-Binge drinking-2013

Been Drunk

 

Eighth Grade Students

8th Grade Drinking-Drunk

Tenth Grade Students

10th Grade Drinking-Drunk

Twelfth Grade Students

12th Grade Drinking-Drunk

College Students

College Drinking-Drunk-2013

Underage Drinking – National Survey Results

 Monitoring the Future

According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) underage alcohol consumption among the nation’s youth continued its long-term decline, with notable decreases in all alcohol consumption prevalence rates among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.  The survey data, which is an indicator of the success and progress made to eliminate underage consumption, reports consumption rates are the lowest levels since the early 1990s when tracking of this data began.

More specifically, from 2013 to 2014 statistical significant declines in underage drinking were recorded for 10th and 12th grade students reporting consuming alcohol in their lifetime, 10th graders reporting consuming alcohol in the past year and past month, and 8th and 12th graders who report they have engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks).

Three out of four 8th graders report they have never consumed alcohol, down 62% proportionally from 70% in 1991 to 27% in 2014.  Lifetime consumption of alcohol among tenth graders and twelfth graders declined proportionally 41% and 25%, respectively, since 1991.

During this same period annual consumption rates continued to trend downward, declining 62% proportionally among 8th graders, 39% among 10th graders, and 23% among 12th graders.  One in five eighth grade students (21%), 44% of tenth graders, and 60% of twelfth graders report they consumed alcohol in the past year.

From 2013 to 2014 the past 30-day prevalence rate decreased among all grade levels, however, among 10th graders there was a statistically significant decrease of 2.2 percent.

  • Nine percent (9%) of 8th graders report consuming alcohol in the past month, down 64% proportionally from 25% in 1991.
  • Tenth graders’ reported monthly consumption rate is down 45% proportionally from 43% in 1991 to 24% in 2012.
  • Twelfth graders’ 30-day consumption rate of 37% is down 31% proportionally from 54% in 1991.

Significant decreases were observed in binge drinking among 8th and 12th graders and declined to a new record low level among 10th graders.  From 2013 to 2014 binge drinking rates declined one percentage point among 8th graders and nearly three percentage points among high school seniors, both recording statistically significant decreases and reaching all time low levels.  At the same time, however, students in all three grades surveyed reported a slight decrease in the perceived risk of binge drinking.

  • Among 8th grade students 4% report binge drinking in the past two weeks, yet 54% perceive binge drinking as a great risk to their health.
  • Thirteen percent (13%) of 10th graders said they engaged in binge drinking, while 54% of 10th graders believe this to be a risky behavior.
  • Among 12th graders 19% report consuming five or more drinks in a row and 45% perceive great risk in this behavior of consuming five or more drinks in a row.

 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 8.7 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents almost 23% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal.

Over the past decade, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health surveys have shown a decline in the prevalence rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol consumption among 12 to 20 year olds:

  • Past month consumption among 12 to 20 year olds have declined proportionally 21 percent from 29% in 2002 to 23% in 2013.
  • Underage binge drinking rates decreased 26 percent proportionally from 19% to 14%.
  • Heavy drinking (five or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days in the past 30 days) also decreased among 12 to 20 year olds during this time declining 40 percent proportionally from 6% in 2002 to 4% in 2013.  (Source: SAMHSA, 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014)

College Drinking – National Survey Results

According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Study, the overall trend in heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) among college students continues to show a decline, decreasing 20 percentage points (44% to 35%) since 1980.

Overall, the prevalence of college drinking over the past two decades, measured as lifetime, annual, and past 30-day consumption rates have all declined. Since 1991, lifetime consumption among college students has declined 17% proportionately, while annual consumption and monthly consumption are down 14% and 16%, respectively.

The Monitoring the Future survey results revealed a statistically significant decrease in annual and monthly consumption rates from 2012 to 2013 among college students, as well as reaching historic low levels. (Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2013: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2014)

College Drinking-Trend-2013

Gender Differences in Alcohol Consumption

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) nearly 7.3 million 12-20 year old girls reported consuming alcohol in the past year.

In 2013, males and females ages 12 to 20 reported similar rates of past month alcohol consumption (23.0% v. 22.5%, respectively), however, rates of binge drinking (16% v. 12%) and heavy drinking (5% v. 3%) were higher among underage males than their underage female peers.

Among 12- to 17-year olds, the percentage of males who report drinking in the past month was slightly lower than their female peers (11.2% v. 11.9%, respectively), however, binge drinking prevalence among 12-17 year old males was slightly higher compared to females (7% and 6%). (Source: SAMHSA, 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014)

The 2013 Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) reports 43% of college males report have consumed five or more drinks in a row during the previous two weeks compared with 30% of their female peers. Extreme levels of binge drinking indicate a significantly larger variance by gender for the combined years of 2005-2013 with male college students more likely to engage in these extreme levels of drinking:

  • 23% of male college students compared to 7% of female college students reported having 10 or more drinks in a row.
  • 9% of males and 2% of females report consuming 15 or more drinks in a row.  (Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2013: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2014)

Where Youth Get Their Alcohol

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) a majority of current underage drinkers ages 12 to 20, who consumed alcohol in the past month, report the last time they drank alcohol it was either in someone else’s house (52%) or their own home (34%). Additionally, 78% of these underage drinkers said they were with two or more people the last time they drank.

Family and friends continue to be a leading source of alcohol for today’s youth.  Among current underage drinkers who did not pay for the alcohol they consumed the last time they drank the most frequently cited source of alcohol was an unrelated person aged 21 or older (37%).  Fifty-two percent of current underage drinkers reported family and friends as their source for the alcohol they consumed – parents/guardians/other adult family member (25%), other underage person (16%), took from home (8%), took from someone else’s home (3%).

Influence of Parents

Despite being identified by youth as one of their primary sources of alcohol, hands down, parents are the most influential person or thing in a child’s decision not to drink at all or not to drink on occasion.

Leading Influences-2014

Additional research from the 2013 Centers for Disease Control’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 42% of students who reported past-month consumption said that they usually obtained the alcohol they drank by someone giving it to them; the prevalence of having someone give them alcohol was higher among females (47%) than males (37%).

Regardless of the source of alcohol, youth report access to alcohol is easy. According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey 88% of 12th graders, 75% of 10th graders, and 54% of 8th graders say it be “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to get alcohol.  On a positive note, despite reported ease of obtaining alcohol disapproval of binge drinking continues to increase among all three grade levels (8th, 85%; 10th, 80%; 12th, 73%).