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Drinking among High School Seniors reaches all time low in 2018

According to the just released 2018 Monitoring the Future survey underage drinking continues a slow and gradual decline, with the majority of students reporting they have never consumed alcohol. Among 12th grade students drinking at all levels reached the lowest levels recorded including significant decreases from 2017 to 2018 in lifetime, past month, and daily consumption, and a statistically significant decrease in binge drinking.

Among teens in grades 8, 10, and 12 combined, nearly six out of ten (59 percent) report they have never consumed alcohol in their lifetime. Over the past decade the number of combined students reporting they have consumed alcohol decreased 25 percent, proportionally, and 49 percent from a record high of 80 percent in 1991, clear indications of the success in delaying the onset of underage drinking. At the individual grade levels, lifetime consumption decreased significantly among high school seniors from 2017 to 2018.

Current alcohol consumption among students in all three grade levels combined decreased significantly from 2017 to 2018 dropping to a record low level (19 percent), having declined 34 percent proportionally since 2009 and 53 percent since 1991. At the individual grade levels, past month consumption remained relatively unchanged from 2017 to 2018 among 8th graders but decreased among 10th and 12th graders.

After years of gradual decline, the trend in binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in a row in the previous two weeks) decreased 1.3 percentage points from 2017 to 2018, a statistically significant decrease among 8th, 10th and 12th graders combined. Binge drinking levels at an all-time low in 2018, have decreased 47 percent proportionally over the past decade and 57 percent since 1991.

  • Binge drinking remained unchanged among 8th graders in 2018, however, reported levels of binge drinking have decreased 53 percent proportionally from 8 percent in 2009 to 4 percent in 2018.
  • Less than one in ten (9 percent) of 10th graders reported binge drinking in 2018, a decrease of 50 percent from 2009 to 2018.
  • Ten percent of 10th graders said they engaged in binge drinking, down 39 percent from 16 percent in 2008.
  • Binge drinking among high school seniors reached the lowest recorded level in the history of the Monitoring the Future survey in 2018. Fourteen percent of 12th graders reported consuming five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks, a 45 percent decrease from 25 percent in 2009.

Peer disapproval of binge drinking among 10th and 12th graders increased significantly while the perceived risk of binge drinking remained stable. Ease of access to alcohol among students remains stable but trending downward. Each of these variables plays a contributing role in the long-term trends in underage alcohol consumption, and has made significant contributions to the long-term trends and will continue to invest in effective risk and prevention interventions that help to eliminate underage drinking.

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