Stay up to date with

New Survey Data Show Historic Low Levels of Underage Drinking

2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals decline in youth alcohol consumption

Arlington, VA - New data released this week found alcohol consumption has declined, especially among youth. The findings, released from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), showed consumption among Americans is down slightly from 2019, with six out of 10 respondents saying they consumed about the same amount in 2020 as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, 138.5 million people (or 50 percent) 12 years of age or older consumed alcohol in the past month, compared to 139.7 million people (or 51 percent) in 2019. Between 2019 and 2020  rates of alcohol consumption among 12- to 20-year-olds declined on all prevalence rates measured. While underage drinking decreased, these declines may not be statistically significant year over year due to survey methodological changes, however, they represent a continuation of a steady and long-term decline.

Underage drinking among our nations’ youth is at historic low levels, and fewer underage youth are reporting drinking than ever before. Over the past decade past month consumption among 12- to 20-year-olds declined 36 percent proportionally from 25 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2020. Rates of binge drinking (four/five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past month) and heavy drinking (four/five or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days in the past 30 days) decreased 31 percent and 45 percent, respectively, from 2015 to 2020.

“This latest data show continued momentum in the right direction, but there is still much work to do as underage drinking remains a serious issue for youth and young adults in the United States,” said Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and “For three decades, has led the fight to eliminate impaired driving and underage drinking, and we urge families, communities, and individuals, to join in our commitment to responsible consumption and eliminating underage drinking altogether.”

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Nearly two-thirds of youth (12- to 20-year-olds) have never consumed alcohol, and 84 percent have not consumed alcohol in the 30-days prior to completing the survey.
  • In 2020 there were 7 million fewer binge drinkers between the ages of 12 and 20 than there were in 2011.
  • Among 12- to 20-year-old respondents who consumed alcohol in the past year, 52 percent said they drank about the same amount and 35 percent said they drank a little or much less than they did prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The full 2020 NSDUH data can be found here. For more information, visit




About is a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empowers adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi USA, Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Campari Group; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; Ole Smoky, LLC; Pernod Ricard USA; and William Grant & Sons. For 30 years, has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families, and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, please visit



Receive the Latest News and Research

Welcome to! We’d love to have you as part of our community. We send updates on how you can help end drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and make responsible choices about alcohol. Get our news straight to your inbox.

No Thanks