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Underage Drinking Statistics

Though progress is being made, underage drinking remains a persistent problem. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 7.7 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents nearly 20% 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 2006 and 2015.

According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, alcohol consumption continues to show significant decreases among the nations’ 8th, 10th and 12th graders. For the three grades combined (8th, 10th and 12th) the proportion of students reporting lifetime, annual and past month alcohol consumption are at the lowest levels since the study began (42 percent, 37 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Even more significant is the noted declines in binge drinking – dropping to historic low levels for 8th, 10th and 12th graders (4 percent, 10 percent and 16 percent, respectively).

Underage Drinking – National Statistics

For 25 years 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 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from less than 1% at age 12 to 16% at age 16, and 51% at age 20.

 

Drinking Patterns 2016

8th-12th-grade-drinking-patterns-2015

Lifetime Underage Drinking

monitoring-future-charts-2016-03

Current Underage Drinking

 

monitoring-future-charts-2016-02

 

Eighth Grade Students

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Tenth Grade Students

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Twelfth Grade Students

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College Students

College Drinking-Past Month-2015

 

Binge Drinking

 

Eighth Grade Students

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Tenth Grade Students

10th-grade-drinking-binge-drinking

Twelfth Grade Students

 

12th-grade-drinking-binge-drinking

College Students 

College Drinking-Binge drinking-2015

 

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-2015

Underage Drinking – National Survey Results

 Monitoring the Future

According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey (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 among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students since the early 1990s when tracking of this data began.

More specifically, from 2015 to 2016 statistically significant declines in underage drinking were recorded for 8th and 10th grades lifetime and annual consumption and been drunk in the past year and lifetime, 8th grade past 30-day consumption and binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks), and 12th grade daily alcohol consumption.

Seventy-seven percent of 8th graders report they have never consumed alcohol, down 67% proportionally from 70% in 1991 to 23% in 2016.  Lifetime consumption of alcohol among tenth graders and twelfth graders declined proportionally 48% and 30%, respectively, since 1991.

During this same period, annual consumption rates continued to trend downward reaching new record lows, declining 67% proportionally among 8th graders, 47% among 10th graders, and 28% among 12th graders.  About one in five eighth grade students (18%), 38% of tenth graders, and 56% of twelfth graders report they consumed alcohol in the past year.

From 2015 to 2016 the past 30-day prevalence rate decreased nearly two percent among students surveyed in grades 8, 10 and 12.

  • Seven percent (7%) of 8th graders report consuming alcohol in the past month, down 71% proportionally from 25% in 1991.
  • Tenth graders’ reported monthly consumption rate has been cut in half, down 54% proportionally from 43% in 1991 to 20% in 2016.
  • One-third (33%) of 12th graders report consuming alcohol in the past 30-days, a decrease of 39 percent proportionally from 54% in 1991.

Binge drinking has fallen by half or more among 8th, 10th and 12th graders from their peak levels in the late 1990s, declining to historic low levels. After increasing in 2015, eighth graders reported a statistically significant lower rate of binge drinking (3%) in 2016. From 2015 to 2016 binge drinking rates declined among 10th and 12th graders, but neither was a significant decrease. At the same time, 10th and 12th graders surveyed reported a slight increase in their disapproval of peers who engage in binge drinking.

  • Among 8th grade students 3% report binge drinking in the past two weeks, and 53% perceive binge drinking to be a great risk to their health.
  • Ten percent (10%) of 10th graders said they engaged in binge drinking, while 55% of 10th graders believe this to be a risky behavior.
  • Among 12th graders 16% report consuming five or more drinks in a row and 48% perceive great risk in the behavior of consuming five or more drinks in a row.

 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 7.7 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents nearly 20% 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 29 percent from 28% in 2006 to 20% in 2015.
  • Underage binge drinking rates decreased 30 percent proportionally from 19% to 13%.
  • 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 47 percent proportionally from 6% in 2006 to 3% in 2015.  (Source: SAMHSA, 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2015)

College Drinking – National Survey Results

According to the 2015 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 27 percentage points (44% to 32%) since 1980.

Overall, the prevalence of college drinking over the past 25 years, measured as lifetime, annual, and past 30-day consumption rates have all declined. Since 1991, lifetime consumption among college students has declined 13% proportionately, while annual consumption and monthly consumption are down 11% and 15%, respectively.

The Monitoring the Future Survey revealed a continuation of the gradual long-term decline in alcohol consumption among college students. Specifically, from 2014 to 2015 consumption rates among college students remained relatively unchanged. (Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2014: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2016)

College Drinking-Trend-2015

 

The Monitoring the Future Study (2005-2015 combined data) revealed during the two weeks prior to the survey one in eight (13%) college students reported they have consumed 10 or more drinks in a row at least once, including one in twenty (5%) who reported consuming 15 or more drinks in a row. (Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2015: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2016)

 

Gender Differences in Alcohol Consumption

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) nearly 6.8 million 12-20 year old girls reported consuming alcohol in the past year.

In 2015, slightly more females aged 12 to 20 reported past month alcohol consumption than their male peers (19.8 % v. 20.8%, respectively), however, they reported relatively the same rate of binge drinking (13.4% v. 13.2%), and heavy drinking (3.6% v. 3.0%).

Among 12- to 17-year olds, males and females reported comparatively equal rates of current consumption (9.9% v. 9.3%, respectively) and binge drinking (5.8% v. 5.8%). (Source: SAMHSA, 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9/2016)

The 2015 Monitoring the Future Study 37% of college males report having consumed five or more drinks in a row during the previous two weeks compared with 29% of their female peers. Extreme levels of binge drinking rates indicate a significantly larger variance by gender for the combined years of 2005-2015 with male college students more likely to engage in these extreme levels of drinking:

 

  • 22% of male college students compared to 7% of female college students reported having 10 or more drinks in a row.
  • 9.1% of college males and 1.7% of college females report consuming 15 or more drinks in a row.  (Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2015: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2016)

Where Youth Get Their Alcohol

According to the 2015 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 (48%) or their own home (36%). Additionally, 75% 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 (69%) the most frequently cited source of alcohol was an unrelated person aged 21 or older (32%).  Fifty-five percent of current underage drinkers reported family and friends as their source for the alcohol they consumed – parents/guardians/other adult family member (28%), another underage person (17%), took from home (7%), 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 Centers for Disease Control’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 44% 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 (49%) than males (40%).

Regardless of the source of alcohol, youth report access to alcohol is easy. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey 87% 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, 72%).