Based on combined National Survey of Drug Use and Health survey data from 2008, 2009, and 2010 a new report was released that estimates underage alcohol consumption among 12 to 20 year olds in the past month. According to the report for the combined period 27% of those underage reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days; this represents no change from the combined 2008 and 2009 year data previously released. The good news is that the majority of our nation’s youth (73%) are not drinking underage. While national, state, and local efforts limit and prevent underage access to alcohol, among current 12-20 year old drinkers nearly 9% report they purchased the alcohol themselves the last time they consumed alcohol.
The report revealed on a state level that past month prevalence rates were lowest among underage in Utah (14%) and highest among 12 to 20 year olds in Vermont (37%). Regionally states in the South tended to have lower rates (6 of the 10 with the lowest rates) while states in the Northeast (7 of the 10) tended to have higher rates of past month consumption. By contrast, states in the South tended to have a higher percentage of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 who purchased their own alcohol. New Mexico (2.5%), Idaho (2.6%), and Oregon (2.6%) underage drinkers reported the lowest rates of self-purchase the last time they drank alcohol; New York (15%) had the highest rate of current underage drinkers purchasing their own alcohol.
While much progress has been made over the past 20 years to prevent underage drinking – the perception that alcohol is easily available among 8th graders had declined 23% and among 12-20 year olds, reported rates of past month consumption, binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption have all been declining for the past decade – this new report highlights there is still work to be done. The Century Council remains committed and works tirelessly to delay the onset of underage drinking and promoting a healthy lifestyle and combatting binge drinking through its innovative programs and initiatives as well as advocating for effective policies. Learn more about our efforts to prevent underage drinking.