New SAMHSA Report Shows a Decline in Binge and Underage Drinking Over More than a Decade

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a decline in the level of past month underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking, but alcohol still remains the drug of choice for youth.

The report, “Underage Drinking Declined Between 2002 and 2013,” is based on SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health report.

What evaluators found was that the level of current underage drinking among those aged 12 to 20 decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013. Likewise, the level of current underage binge drinking also declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 14.2 percent in 2013.  Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion at least one day in the past 30 days.

“When parents communicate clear expectations and they are supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking, we can make a difference,” said Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), in a news release. “However, there are still 8.7 million current underage drinkers and 5.4 million current underage binge drinkers. This poses a serious risk not only to their health and to their future, but to the safety and well-being of others. We must do everything we can to prevent underage drinking and get treatment for young people who need it.”