Underage binge drinking rates declining


Binge drinking among U.S. teens and young adults aged 12-20 has declined over the past six years, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), but 14 percent still report having engaged in binge drinking in the past month – making it a continuing public health issue.

“Alcohol use continues to be a serious public health issue for young people, their families and communities,” said Frances M. Harding, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “We’ve made plenty of progress through prevention efforts, yet the work still needs to continue.”

The report shows underage binge drinking at its highest levels in the Northeast and Midwest, with North Dakota at 21 percent, New Hampshire at 21 percent and Vermont at 20.8 percent. Underage binge drinking was reported at the lowest levels in North Carolina (11.6 percent), Tennessee (11.45 percent) and Utah (10.9 percent).

Recent years have seen an increased focus on preventing underage drinking through policy, community coalitions, and enforcement, as well as national media campaigns. SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You” encourages parents and caregivers to talk with children early about the dangers of alcohol. The campaign includes a free mobile app to help parents and caregivers prepare for talking to their children. More information about the campaign is available at: http://www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov

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