Under Aged Drinking Today

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Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol. More youth in the United States drink alcohol than smoke tobacco or marijuana, making it the drug most used by American young people. The average age at which young people ages 12 to 17 begin to drink is 13 years old. The average age that underage drinkers ages 12 to 20 begin to drink is 16.1 years old.4 From 1979 to 2006, risk of binge drinking declined from 12- to 20-year old males but not females in this age range. NO reduction in binge drinking occurred for college males. In a national study, 13.8% of eighth-graders reported having at least one drink in the past 30 days, and 11.5% had been drunk at least once in the past year. Today, alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted throughout society. And alcohol use continues to be regarded, by many people, as a normal part of growing up. Yet underage drinking is dangerous, not only for the drinker but also for society, as evident by the number of alcohol-involved motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and other injuries. People who begin drinking early in life run the risk of developing serious alcohol problems, including alcoholism, later in life. They also are at greater risk for a variety of adverse consequences, including risky sexual activity and poor performance in school. Identifying adolescents at greatest risk can help stop problems before they develop. And innovative, comprehensive approaches to prevention, such as Project Northland, are showing success in reducing experimentation with alcohol as well as the problems that accompany alcohol use by young people.

Between 1993 and 2001, 18- to 20-year-old drinkers showed the largest increase (56%) in binge-drinking episodes among American adults. This group of underage drinkers also had the second-highest rate of binge drinking, outstripped only by young adults ages 21 to 25.8 Twelve- to fourteen-year-old binge drinkers consume 91% of...
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