Teens Drinking Too Much in US

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

Sept. 16, 2004 -- About 12% of 8th graders have had five or more drinks on a single occasion within the past 2 weeks, according to a report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). And about 29% of 12th graders have had five or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks.

Underage drinking in the US peaked in the 70's, went down in the 80's, and stayed stuck on a disturbingly high plateau in the 90s, states the NIH report on "Trends in Drinking Among Americans Age 18 and Younger: 1975-2002."

The report by Vivian Faden and Michael Fay is in this month's issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The abstract by Drs. Faden and Fay reads as follows:


Background: Although changes over time in the prevalence of drinking by youth under 18 have been previously reported, we present results based on data from multiple surveys, using recently developed software for trend analyses. In this study, we applied joinpoint statistical methodology to three national data sets to analyze trends in drinking by youth, age 18 and under, for the period 1975 to 2002.

Methods: Information was obtained from three national data sets, Monitoring the Future for the years 1975 to 2002, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for the years 1991 to 2001, and the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse for 1979, 1985, and 1991 to 2001.