More than half of American teens report consuming alcohol, and more than 40% of those underage drinkers say they often get their alcohol free from an adult. One in four report receiving free alcohol from an unrelated adult, one in 16 report receiving it from a parent or guardian, and one in 12 say they have received it from a family member. The findings are the result of research recently conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The survey, Underage Alcohol Use: Findings From the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, included a random sample of 158,000 people 12 to 20 years old.
Among those surveyed, about 7.2 million said they had taken part in binge drinking — consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion — in the past month. The rates of binge drinking were significantly higher among those living with a parent who was also a binge drinker.
According to authors of the study, underage drinking is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths of people under 21 years of age each year in the U.S.
Other noteworthy findings in the report include the following:
- "More than half (53.9) of all people aged 12 to 20 engaged in underage drinking in their lifetime, ranging from 11.0 percent of 12 year olds to 85.5 percent of 20 year olds.
- An average of 3.5 million people aged 12 to 20 each year (9.4 percent) meet the diagnostic criteria for having an alcohol use disorder (dependence or abuse).
- About one in five people in this age group (7.2 million people) have engaged in binge drinking – consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the past month.
- The vast majority of current underage drinkers (80.9 percent) reported being with two or more people the last time they drank. Those who were with two or more people consumed an average of 4.9 drinks on that occasion, compared with 3.1 drinks for those who were with one other person and 2.9 drinks for those who were alone.
- Among youths aged 12 to 14 the rate of current drinking was higher for females (7.7 percent) than males (6.3 percent), about equal for females and males among those aged 15 to 17 (27.6 and 27.3 percent, respectively), and lower for females than males among those aged 18 to 20 (47.9 vs. 54.4 percent).
- Over half (53.4 percent) of underage current alcohol users were at someone else’s home when they had their last drink, and 30.3 percent were in their own home; 9.4 percent were at a restaurant, bar or club.
- Rates of binge drinking are significantly higher among young people living with a parent who engaged in binge drinking within the past year."
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