A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a significant decline in the level of past month (current) underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking. Yet, alcohol still remains the most widely used substance of abuse among youths aged 12 to 20.
The report shows that level of current underage drinking among those aged 12 to 20 decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013.
Likewise, the level of current underage binge drinking also declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 14.2 percent in 2013. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least one day in the past 30 days.
Despite this reduction, however, more youths aged 12 to 20 currently use alcohol (22.7 percent) than use tobacco (16.9 percent) or use illicit drugs (13.6 percent).
“When parents communicate clear expectations and they are supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking, we can make a difference,” said Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). “However, there are still 8.7 million current underage drinkers and 5.4 million current underage binge drinkers. This poses a serious risk not only to their health and to their future, but to the safety and well-being of others. We must do everything we can to prevent underage drinking and get treatment for young people who need it.”
The last decade has seen an increased focus on preventing underage drinking in national and local policy, community coalitions, law enforcement efforts, and through campaigns.
To learn more about ways you can take action to keep your kids from underage drinking and other risky behaviors, check out our Safe Homes Smart Parties Campaign.