Underage Drinking, Binging on the Decline

By Brent McCluskey 06/19/15

Researchers believe that state, local, and federal laws have contributed to the decline.

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After more than a decade of research the results are in, as underage drinking and binge drinking across the United States has been in steady decline.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration surveyed young people from 2002 to 2013. In the final year of the study the researchers found that 22.7% of minors had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days, down from 28.8% in 2002, and 14.2% had engaged in binge drinking, down from 19.3% from 2002.

According to Rich Lucey, special assistant to the director at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse, the reduction in underage drinking and binge drinking is a good step in the right direction, but it’s still not enough.

“While we’re always very happy about these declines, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we have approximately 9 million underage drinkers in the country,” said Lucey. “We as a country could all do a much better job ... to really start to drive those numbers down because I don’t think any of us are comfortable with an alarmingly high rate of binge drinking among that population, especially when we know the consequences related to it.”

Lucey believes the decline in underage drinking can be attributed to the many laws at the federal, state, and local levels that have been implemented over the years to deter young people from engaging in the illegal act.

James Fell, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation who focuses on drunk driving, agreed, adding that enforcement of those laws also helps.

“It doesn’t surprise me this is going on,” Fell said. “The combination of all those laws and enforcement will deter underage people from drinking.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.