Underage Drinking Among American Youth Remains Significantly Lower than Peak Years
Underage drinking among American teens was at or below pre-pandemic levels in 2023
Washington, DC— Today, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released the results of its 2023 Monitoring the Future Survey, which tracks long-term behaviors of substance use and related attitudes amongst 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students.
Long-term declines in underage drinking noted over the past few decades remain, and the just-released 2023 Monitoring the Future study found that alcohol consumption among America’s teens is at or near record low levels and below pre-pandemic prevalence rates. Among 12th grade students, lifetime, annual, current, and daily prevalence rates declined significantly from 2022 to 2023. Additionally, lifetime abstention, defined as no alcohol, marijuana, or nicotine (either by cigarettes or by vaping) use, increased significantly among students in 10th and 12th grade.
More specifically, the survey found the following:
- A majority of teens report they have never consumed alcohol – 80% of students in 8th grade, 64% of 10th graders, and 47% of 12th graders. Lifetime consumption has declined 25%, proportionally, among 8th graders, 27% among 10th graders, and 20% among high school seniors.
- In 2023, past 30-day consumption and binge drinking remained at near record low levels and below pre-pandemic levels. Current drinking among teens remained relatively unchanged from 2022 to 2023 among 8th and 10th graders, but it declined significantly among high school seniors (down 4 percentage points). The longer-term trend shows declines of 24 percent among 8th graders, 42% among 10th graders, and 35% among 12th graders over the past decade.
- Binge drinking rates remained stable from 2022 to 2023 among students in all three grade levels, but over the past ten years the prevalence of binge drinking has been cut in almost half – down 51% proportionally among 8th graders, 57% among 10th graders, and 47% among 12th graders.
- Peer disapproval of binge drinking remains high among 8th, 10th and 12th graders in 2023. The perceived risk of binge drinking remained relatively unchanged; ease of access to alcohol also remained relatively stable from 2022 to 2023 among all teens.
The 2023 study results show continuing and gradual progress being made toward eliminating underage drinking across the country, but more work remains.
“I’m elated to see that more teens are abstaining from all forms of substance use, including drinking underage. Delaying the onset of alcohol consumption is a key factor in reducing risky behavior as kids grow into adults. This is a testament to the impactful work being done both by us at Responsibility.org and our partners to keep kids safe and alcohol-free. Conversations between parents and kids are making a measurable difference, and I’m heartened to see that kids are listening,” said Leslie Kimball, Executive Director of Responsibility.org. “As the mom of two teens, I’m personally and professionally dedicated to making sure parents and caregivers continue to have the information and support they need to empower their kids to make safe and responsible choices and to say “NO” to underage drinking. Our work is not done; we will continue our mission to eliminate underage drinking once and for all.”
Responsibility.org's science-based educational programs such as Ask, Listen, Learn and Alcohol101+ work to equip parents and educators with the tools and resources they need to have open and honest conversations and educate children, teens, and young adults about the dangers of underage drinking and binge drinking. In addition, industry supported campaigns such as We Don’t Serve Teens bring together communities, businesses, and families to keep alcohol out of the hands of everyone under the legal drinking age. These efforts have helped jumpstart conversations around critical issues and allowed a variety of sources to play their own unique, yet pivotal, role in keeping kids alcohol-free and shaping their attitudes and perceptions about alcohol.
Responsibility.org credits progress in the flight to eliminate underage drinking to a wide variety of partners who support and champion these efforts, model responsible practices, and promote prevention education. Among them are Discovery Education, the American School Counselor Association, Classroom Champions, the Society for Health and Physical Education (SHAPE America), the Association of Middle Level Educators, and the Responsibility.org team of social media parent influencers, among many other dedicated advocates.
The full Monitoring the Future survey results are available here.
Responsibility.org 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 empower adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. Responsibility.org is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi USA, Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Campari Group; Constellation Brands; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; Ole Smoky, LLC; Pernod Ricard USA; and William Grant & Sons. For more than 30 years, Responsibility.org 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 www.Responsibility.org.