New NSDUH Report : Underage Alcohol Use: Where Do Young People Drink?

Source SAMHSA eNetwork email, 9/5/08

In 2006, more than one in four persons aged 12 to 20 in the United States, or about 10.8 million persons, drank alcohol in the past month (i.e., were current drinkers). Nearly one in five persons aged 18 to 20 drove under the influence of alcohol in the past 12 months in 2006, and each year approximately 1,900 people under the age of 21 die as a result of alcohol-involved motor vehicle crashes. In addition, early initiation of alcohol use is associated with increased likelihood of unprotected sexual intercourse and multiple sex partners.

Click here to download this report.

The following are brief findings from the report:

  • A majority (53.4 percent) of current alcohol users aged 12 to 20 drank at someone else’s home the last time they used alcohol, and another 30.3 percent drank in their own home.
  • The percentage of underage alcohol users who had their most recent drink in a car or other vehicle peaked at 10.0 percent at age 16 (12.8 percent of females and 7.3 percent of males).
  • Among 20-year-old current drinkers, 20.0 percent of females drank in a restaurant, bar, or club the last time they used alcohol compared with 10.2 percent of males.

Research Findings on Underage Drinking and the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

Source: NIAAA web site (prepared 8/28/08)

The extent and consequences of alcohol consumption by our Nation?s youth are matters of growing concern. Not only do most young people drink alcohol, but they often drink heavily, putting themselves and those around them at risk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and other Federal agencies continue to conduct and support research on how best to address underage drinking. In addition, adults in communities across the country are wrestling with how to change the culture around underage drinking. Although some have suggested that lowering the drinking age would lead to more responsible alcohol consumption among young people, the preponderance of research indicates that the legal drinking age of 21 has had positive effects on health and safety.

Click here to read the rest of the research findings summary.
Click here to read Pediatrics supplement on underage drinking.
Click here for information on the Amethyst Initiative (the group of university officials that favor lowering legal drinking age to 18)