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New data: Underage drinking at its lowest in past two decades

The release of the 2013 Monitoring the Future Study today was a good news story in terms of underage alcohol consumption. In fact, all alcohol consumption prevalence rates decreased among 8th, 10th and 12th graders, continuing a more than 20-year downward trend in these statistics. The survey data, which is an indicator of the success and progress made to eliminate underage consumption, reports consumption rates are the lowest levels of past month consumption and binge drinking being reached in the 39 years of the survey.

Lifetime, annual, and past month consumption decreased among all three grade levels surveyed (8th, 10th, 12th), with past 30-day consumption declining at a statistically significant rate among 12th graders from 2012 to 2013.  Other statistically significant decreases were observed from 2012 to 2013 among the number of 10th graders who report they have been drunk in the past month and have engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks).

Lifetime and annual consumption rates among youth in all three grade levels are at an historic low.  More than seven out of ten 8th graders report they have never consumed alcohol, down 60% proportionally from 70% in 1991 to 28% in 2013.  Lifetime consumption of alcohol among tenth graders and high school seniors declined proportionally 38% and 23%, respectively, since 1991.  During this same period of time annual consumption rates continued to trend downward, declining 59% proportionally among 8th graders, 35% among 10th graders, and 20% among 12th graders.  

In addition to the notable declines in all of the prevalence rates, students also report an increase in their disapproval of binge drinking among peers and a decrease in the availability of alcohol.  At the same time, students in all three grade levels did report a slight decrease in the perceived risk of binge drinking.

Overall alcohol consumption among youth has been declining for the past two decades, but there remains more work to be done.  The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is particularly pleased with the continued downward trend noted in the survey among 8th graders who are our national Ask, Listen, Learn; Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program target audience.  Parents remain the leading influence on their children’s decisions to drink or not drink alcohol, and Ask, Listen, Learn, the largest program of its kind, reaches millions of middle school students, their parents, and teachers each year.  We remain committed to lead the fight to eliminate underage drinking and its cultural acceptance.  To read the complete 2013 Monitoring the Future Study visit

Parents of younger kids, to help make sure these downward trends continue, please visit our #TalkEarly initiative page.

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