Underage Drinking Associated with Promiscuity; 40% of Underage Drinkers Receive Free Alcohol From an Adult

Many Underage Drinkers Get Their Alcohol From an Adult, and Consume 2-5 drinks at an Average Occasion

Alcohol use is one of the largest public health issues for the 12-20 year old population in America and, each year, approximately five thousand individuals under the age of 21 die in the United States as a result of underage drinking.  Early alcohol use has also been associated with increased violent behavior, promiscuity, risky sexual behavior, and suicide.

A recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that of the 10 million underage drinkers in the United States, nearly 40% receive their alcohol free of charge from an adult, and 28% got their alcohol from a family member. The percentage of underage individuals who actually steal liquor from their parent’s is only 4%. 

 In general, it was found that 54% of teens aged 12-20 have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. For the purposes of the report, their alcohol consumption was also classified as current use (in the past month), binge drinking (5 or more drinks on one occasion), or heavy drinking (5 or more days of binge drinking in a month). Within all ages reported, 28% were classified as current users, 19% are binge drinkers, and 6.2% are heavy drinkers.

It was also reported that, for the most part, males consume more alcohol than females and underage alcohol use is higher in non-Hispanic whites than in Hispanics, blacks, or American Indians.  Additionally, family income and geographical location seem to play a role in underage drinking habits.

Twelve to fourteen year olds who drank at home, drank an average of 2.2 drinks during their last occasion, where as the those who drank away from home averaged 3.4 drinks during each occasion.  The number of drinks does seem to increase with age, but, in all age groups, it was found that teens tend to drink mostly at home or in someone else’s home. The group of 15-17 year olds averaged 3.6 drinks in their home, and 4.7 drinks at someone else’s house and the group of 18-20 year olds averaged 4.4 drinks at home, and 5.2 drinks if they were elsewhere.

Of those individuals who partake in underage drinking, over one-third who used alcohol in the last month will have also used an illicit drug. The most popular drug used by this population was marijuana, followed by various pain relievers.1


1Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health” Department of Health and Human Services June 2008, pp. 1-120

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