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Youth and Underage Drinking: An Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This report summarizes findings from various recent studies on youth and underage drinking.
Highlights were provided from the following studies: SAMHSA's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse; national survey results on drug use from the Monitoring the Future Study; and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Alert on Youth Drinking. The data encompassed the prevalence of underage consumption of alcohol, the characteristics of youth who consume alcoholic beverages, adolescents' beliefs about alcohol, and risk factors for adolescent alcohol use. Overall, the surveys and studies showed that peer pressure to consume alcoholic beverages begins early. One-third of fourth graders and more than half of sixth graders reported they had been pressured by friends to drink an alcoholic beverage. On average, youth began drinking alcoholic beverages at about age 13, but some start even younger. By the time they were high school seniors, more than 80 percent had used alcohol, and approximately 64 percent had been drunk. When adolescents moved on to college, they brought their drinking habits with them; more than 40 percent of college students were binge drinkers. In 1998, 10.4 million current drinkers were under legal age (age 12-20). Of these, 5.1 million were binge drinkers, including 2.3 million heavy drinkers. 22 notes