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Majority of Adolescents Drink Alcohol

By April 16, 2008

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Almost 54 percent of all adolescents and young adults ages 12 to 20 have drank an alcoholic beverage at least once in their lifetime and underage drinkers consume an estimated 11.2 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the United States, according to the latest statistics released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2006 indicate that 53.9 percent of all people age 12 to 20 have had at least one drink. Adolescents who reported drinking in the past month tend to consumer more alcohol per occasion than drinkers over the legal drinking age of 21, the report said.

4.9 Drinks Per Occasion

Here are some of the other findings from the NSDUH report:

  • Combined 2005 and 2006 data indicate that an annual average of 28.3 percent of persons aged 12 to 20 in the United States (an estimated 10.8 million persons annually) drank alcohol in the past month.

  • Past-month alcohol users aged 12 to 20 drank on an average of 5.9 days in the past month and consumed an average of 4.9 drinks per day on the days they drank in the past month.

  • Underage drinkers aged 12 to 20 consumed, on average, more drinks per day on the days they drank in the past month than persons aged 21 or older (4.9 vs. 2.8 drinks).

The NSDUH report, " Quantity and Frequency of Alcohol Use among Underage Drinkers" is available online in PDF format.

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