Study Finds Decline in Underage Drinking from 2002 to 2013

A six percent decrease in alcohol consumption among people aged 12 to 20 in the last decade is an encouraging sign.

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a significant decline in the level of underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking.

The report shows that 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 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).

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, including SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” underage drinking prevention national media campaign that encourages parents and caregivers to talk with children early about the dangers of alcohol.

To learn more about the campaign and talking to young people about underage drinking visit

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