Underage Drinking in Ventura County
nderage drinking continues to be a substantial problem in Ventura County. As a recent survey reports, alcohol use is highest among 18 to 20 year olds who are not of legal age to purchase it.
In 2004, The Ventura County Behavioral Health
Department contracted with the Social Science
Research Center (SSRC) at the University of
California, Fullerton to conduct a survey concerning
alcohol use in Ventura County and to benchmark
public sentiment regarding underage drinking. The
survey results in this fact sheet pertain to questions
about underage and binge drinking, settings in
which drinking occurs, youth access to alcohol, and
binge drinking and driving.
etween May 5 and August 17, 2004, the SSRC
administered a telephone survey to individuals
18 years of age and older residing in 2,021 randomly
selected households in Ventura County. This is a
population-based survey, meaning that rather than
targeting heads-of-households, respondents were
randomly selected from among all adults in the
household. Consequently, the results can be
generalized to the entire population of noninstitutionalized civilians 18 years of age or older residing in households with telephones in Ventura
County. The SSRC’s estimated response rate for this
telephone survey was 68.40%; a very acceptable
outcome for the random digit dialed technique and
questionnaire length. A detailed description of the
survey methodology may be found in the full report
on the Ventura County Limits website
Summary of Findings
• Most adults in Ventura County have had at least
one drink in the last month. 62.2% of male and
48.2% of female adults in Ventura County report
having consumed at least one alcoholic beverage
in the past thirty days.
• Youth and young adults appear to drink the most.
Alcohol use in Ventura County is highest among
18 to 20 year olds (who cannot legally purchase
it) (an average of 32.7 drinks per month among
those in this age group who drink) and second
highest among 21 to 25 year olds (an average of
22.3 drinks per month among those who
• Larger proportions of White and English-speaking
Hispanic males drink than do other subgroups.
Consumption of at least one alcoholic beverage in
the last thirty days is most prevalent among NonHispanic English-speaking males (67%), followed by English-speaking Hispanic males (62.2%) and
Non-Hispanic English-speaking females (54.6%).
The prevalence of alcohol use is lowest among
Spanish-speaking females (just 3.8%).
• Males binge drink at more than four times the
rate of females. Among all survey respondents,
17.7% of males compared to 4.3% of females
report “binge drinking” on one or more occasion
in the past thirty days.1
• Young adults binge drink at almost three times
the rate of older adults. Among survey
respondents who consume alcohol, 42.0% of
those 25 years of age and younger report binge
drinking in the last thirty days, compared to
14.5% of those 26 years of age and older.
• Binge drinking is significantly more prevalent
among young men. 62.1% of males 25 years of
age and younger who drink report binge
drinking at least once in the last 30 days.
Included in this proportion is 35.1% that report
binge drinking three or more times in the last month.
Settings for Binge Drinking
• Private homes are the most frequent location for
binge drinking. Among respondents that report
binge drinking, the most frequently reported
setting for alcohol consumption on the last
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occasion is the respondent’s own residence
(N=92, 52.3%), followed by another person’s
home (N=40, 22.7%), and a bar or club (N=22,
12.5%). Nine persons each (5.1%) reported last
binge drinking at a “restaurant or banquet hall”
and “a public place.”