National Survey on Drug Use and Health
According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 10.0 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents nearly 26% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal.
Among 12-20 year olds, rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol consumption declined between 2002 and 2010. Since the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health past month consumption has dropped almost 9% proportionately, binge drinking down 12%, and heavy alcohol use down 17%. (Source: SAMHSA, 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2011)
Among older age groups, the prevalence of current alcohol consumption decreases with increasing age, however, among America’s youth the rate of underage drinking increases with increasing age according to the 2010 survey, ranging from 2% at age 12 to 5% at age 13, 9% at age 14, 16% at age 15, 21% at age 16, 28% at age 17, 42% at age 18, 49% at age 19, and 56% at age 20. (Source: SAMHSA, 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2011)
Monitoring the Future
The 2012 Monitoring the Future survey revealed underage drinking among teens continued its long-term decline, with prevalence rates reaching the lowest levels since the survey began measuring consumption levels.
Over the past five years, from 2007 to 2012, significant declines in alcohol consumption among all three grade levels surveyed on most prevalence measures have been observed – lifetime, annual, 30-day, daily, and binge drinking. In 2012, statistically significant reductions in consumption were noted in lifetime, annual, past month, and binge drinking among 8th graders.
The latest edition of the survey revealed, in 2012, 12th graders had the lowest recorded level of underage drinking since the inception of the Monitoring the Future Study in 1975 and that 8th and 10th graders also experienced the lowest levels since 1991 when they were added to the study sample.
Three in ten students (30%) of eighth grade students, 54% of tenth graders, and 69% of twelfth graders report they have tried alcohol at least once in their lifetime. These figures represent a decline in lifetime alcohol consumption among students in all three grade levels.
Likewise, there was a decline in the annual rate of underage drinking among 8th and 10th graders, while the rate among 12th graders remained stable from 2011 to 2012. Annual consumption rates among 8th and 10th grade students declined to record low levels decreasing 3.3% and 1.2% proportionally from 2011 to 2012, with statistically significant decreases recorded for 8th graders.
- The annual rate of consumption among 8th graders was 24%.
- Among 10th graders 49% reported consuming alcohol in the past year.
- The prevalence rate of annual consumption was 64% for 12th graders.
While at near record low levels, reported rates of monthly consumption declined significantly among 8th graders, and increased slightly among 10th and 12th graders in 2012. However, 10-year and 20-year trends continue to show significant reductions at each of these three grade levels. Over the past two decades the proportion of students reporting past month consumption has been cut in more than half for 8th graders, by almost one-third among 10th graders, and about one-fifth among high school seniors.
- Eleven percent (11%) of 8th graders report consuming alcohol in the past month, down 58% proportionally from 26% in 1992.
- Tenth graders’ reported monthly consumption rate is down 31% from 40% in 1992 to 28% in 2012.
- Twelfth graders’ 30-day consumption rate of 42% is down 19% proportionally from 51% in 1992.
Similarly, the percentage of students at all three grade levels who said they had been drunk in the month prior to the survey decreased among 8th graders and increased among 10th and 12th graders from 2011 to 2012.
- Reaching historic low levels among students in 8th grade, 4% reported they had been drunk in the past 30-days.
- The rate of consumption in the past 30-days was 15% among 10th graders.
- More than one-quarter (28%) of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past 30-days.
Reported incidents of binge drinking, that is having five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks, also declined statistically significantly among 8th graders in 2012 reaching a record new level; nearly one in six high school sophomores and one in four seniors reported binge drinking in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, the prevalence rate of binge drinking among 12th graders increased significantly in 2012. However, at least half of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders perceive binge drinking as a great risk to their health.
- Among 8th grade students 5% report binge drinking in the past two weeks, yet 58% perceive binge drinking as a great risk.
- Sixteen percent (16%) of 10th graders said the engaged in binge drinking, while 53% of 10th graders believe this to be a risky behavior.
- Among 12th graders 24% report binge drinking and 49% perceive great risk in this behavior of consuming five or more drinks in a row.
Since the inception of The Century Council in 1991 the proportion of students who have reported consuming alcohol in their lifetime, annually, in the past 30 days, or binge drinking has decreased among eighth, tenth and twelfth grade students. Throughout this time, the availability of alcohol to underage youth has continued to decline according to the 2012 Monitoring the Future study.