Underage Drinking Improves with Alcohol Awareness Education

2010 Underage Alcohol Use in the US

In 2010, about 10.0 million persons aged 12 to 20 (26.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Approximately 6.5 million (17.0 percent) were binge drinkers, and 2.0 million (5.1 percent) were heavy drinkers. The rate for binge drinking was lower than that obtained in 2009 (18.1 percent).

Rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use among underage persons declined between 2002 and 2010. The rate of current alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds went from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 26.3 percent in 2010. The binge drinking rate went from 19.3 to 17.0 percent, and the rate of heavy drinking went from 6.2 to 5.1 percent.

Rates of current alcohol use increased with increasing age among underage persons. In 2010, 3.1 percent of persons aged 12 or 13, 12.4 percent of persons aged 14 or 15, 24.6 percent of 16 or 17 year olds, and 48.9 percent of 18 to 20 year olds drank alcohol during the 30 days before they were surveyed. This pattern has remained stable since 2002 (Figure 3.6).

Figure 3.6 Current Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Age: 2002-2010

 + Difference between this estimate and the 2010 estimate is statistically significant at the .05 level.

More males than females aged 12 to 20 reported current alcohol use (28.3 vs. 24.1 percent), binge drinking (19.8 vs. 14.0 percent), and heavy drinking (6.7 vs. 3.5 percent) in 2010 (Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Gender: 2010

Among persons aged 12 to 20, past month alcohol use rates in 2010 were 15.4 percent among Asians, 20.4 percent among blacks, 22.9 percent among American Indians or Alaska Natives, 24.2 percent among those reporting two or more races, 24.4 percent among Hispanics, and 29.3 percent among whites.

In 2010, among persons aged 12 to 20, binge drinking was reported by 19.8 percent of whites, 18.4 percent of American Indians or Alaska Natives, 16.0 percent of Hispanics, and 15.1 percent of persons reporting two or more races, but only 9.9 percent of blacks and 7.8 percent of Asians reported binge drinking.

Across geographic regions in 2010, the underage current alcohol use rate was higher in the Northeast (30.7 percent) than in the Midwest (26.4 percent), West (25.6 percent), and South (24.6 percent).

In 2010, the underage current alcohol use rate was similar in large metropolitan areas (25.9 percent), small metropolitan areas (27.4 percent), and nonmetropolitan areas (25.5 percent).

In 2010, 81.6 percent of current drinkers aged 12 to 20 were with two or more other people the last time they drank alcohol, 13.1 percent were with one other person the last time they drank, and 5.2 percent were alone.

A majority of underage current drinkers in 2010 reported that their last use of alcohol in the past month occurred either in someone else’s home (55.3 percent) or their own home (29.9 percent). Underage females were more likely than males to have been in a restaurant, bar, or club on their last drinking occasion (10.1 vs. 7.2 percent).

Among underage current drinkers in 2010, 30.6 percent paid for the alcohol the last time they drank, including 8.8 percent who purchased the alcohol themselves and 21.6 percent who gave money to someone else to purchase it.

Among underage drinkers who did not pay for the alcohol the last time they drank, the most common source was an unrelated person aged 21 or older (38.9 percent). Other underage persons provided the alcohol on the last occasion 16.6 percent of the time. Parents, guardians, or other adult family members provided the alcohol 21.6 percent of the time. Other sources of alcohol for underage drinkers who did not pay included (a) took the alcohol from home (6.0 percent), (b) took it from someone else’s home (3.8 percent), and (c) got it some other way (8.1 percent).

Underage drinkers were more likely than persons aged 21 or older to use illicit drugs within 2 hours of alcohol use on their last reported drinking occasion (19.0 vs. 5.1 percent, respectively). The most commonly reported illicit drug used by underage drinkers in combination with alcohol was marijuana, which was used within 2 hours of alcohol use by 18.0 percent of current underage drinkers (1.8 million persons) on their last drinking occasion. 

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Tom Wilson Counseling Center assists individuals in overcoming harmful patterns of abuse by providing DUI, Alcohol, Drug & Substance Abuse and Education Classes as well as classes for Relapse Prevention, Anger Management, Parent Divorce and Defensive Driving Education Classes accepted in most states.  

ALL classes developed and monitored by Tom Wilson, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who is also a Certified Alcohol and Substance Prevention Specialist. Tom is the author of “Taming Anger and Aggression“, an anger management program which has been taught to hundreds of people at the counseling center over the last twelve years. He specializes in adapting evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs for delivery through the web and other electronic media.