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Underage Drinking in Alaska Needs Assessment

NCJ Number
Bobetta L. Trani; Steven L. Hamilton
Date Published
December 2000

This document discusses underage drinking in the State of Alaska.


Underage drinking is a problem that contributes to accidents, attempted suicides, poor physical health, and more serious crime. Hidden effects include the increased probability of addiction to alcohol as adults. Underage drinking refers to consumption of alcohol by youth ages 20 and younger. Because certain services or facilities treat persons 18 and older as adults, the population is stratified into two different groups: youth ages 18 through 20 and youth ages 17 and younger. This study examined the statutes and policy issues; law enforcement issues; the court system’s response; treatment trends and resources; prevention, education, and advocacy efforts; and data resources and trends regarding underage drinking. Investigators examined statewide efforts and data and conducted more detailed inquiries for 17 sample communities. The communities were diverse in size, geography, and ethnicity. Information relating to prevalence of underage drinking, consequences, efforts to address the problem, and barriers to those efforts was collected. Statewide data included court data, registry data, motor vehicle accident data, case data, and treatment data. The results show that, in Alaska, the prevalence of underage drinking does not vary significantly from the national prevalence. More than 50 percent of high school youth self-reported as current users of alcohol while more than 33 percent reported binge drinking in the month prior to the survey. The consequences are reflected in an increase in the number of alcohol-related accidents among youth requiring hospitalization - 66 percent between 1991 and 1998. Alaska has a diverse set of strategies in place to address this problem. Community advocates, officials of the court system, and local law enforcement officials are searching for ways to intervene with youth cited for underage drinking to ensure that they receive appropriate services in addition to being held accountable for their violations. 78 footnotes