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Alcohol Consumption Among American Youth Hits New Record Low, Latest NSDUH Reports

It is well accepted that parents are the leading influence on their child’s decisions to drink – or not to drink – alcohol. As the new school year kicks off, findings from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report remind parents to keep up the good work and continue talking about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking. Anti-underage drinking efforts are working and the impact has resulted in record lows according to the latest federal government data.

Across all measures – past month, binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption – the proportion of 12- to 20-year olds reporting consuming alcohol reached the lowest levels since the study began.

Over the past decade, past month consumption declined 29 percent proportionally, binge drinking decreased 30 percent, and heavy alcohol consumption (defined as binge drinking on five or more occasions in the past 30 days) decreased 47 percent.

More specifically, in 2015, approximately 7.7 million people ages 12 to 20 reported underage drinking in the past month; this represents one-fifth of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal. Among American youth, 12- to 20-year olds, 20 percent reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, including 13 percent who reported binge drinking in the past month and three percent who reported heavy alcohol consumption.

Over the past decade, more than 3.1 million fewer 12- to 20-year-olds reported drinking alcohol, and almost 2.2 million fewer adolescents reported binge drinking compared to 2006.

For the past 25 years, we have been working to bring individuals, families and communities together to guide a lifetime of conversation around alcohol responsibility. We believe that parents should feel comfortable talking with their children as young as six years old about the dangers of underage drinking. As students transition into middle school, parents should feel confident explaining the impact of alcohol on their developing body and brain. And as kids become exposed to more freedom as they head off to high school and college, parents should remain more involved than ever by making their values about alcohol known. Even while kids are at college, parents should maintain their involvement and continue to support their kids from afar. We are proud of the parents who continue to help drive these underage drinking numbers down and are committed to keeping our nation’s youth safe and alcohol-free. And for parents who are just getting started, we’ve got resources to help you start a conversation.

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Maureen Dalbec, Vice President of Research at, and her husband are proud parents of two college age children. In her free time she enjoys running and swimming and occasionally competing in triathlons as well as volunteering in her community.

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