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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Alcohol Use

Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used during adolescence. Its use is associated with motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths, problems in school and in the workplace, and fighting, crime, and other serious consequences.90 Early onset of binge drinking, defined here as five or more alcoholic beverages in a row or during a single occasion in the previous 2 weeks, may be especially problematic, potentially increasing the likelihood of these negative outcomes.

Indicator Beh2: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks by grade, 1980–2012
Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks by grade, 1980–2012

NOTE: Data for 10th-graders for 2008 are not included because estimates are considered to be unreliable due to sampling error. See http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/09data.html#2009data-drugs.

SOURCE: National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future Survey.

  • Binge drinking declined from the most recent peaks of 13 percent in 1996 to 5 percent in 2012 for 8th-grade students, from 24 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2012 for 10th-grade students, and from 32 percent in 1998 to 24 percent in 2012 for 12th-grade students.
  • In 2012, about 5 percent of male and 6 percent of female 8th-grade students reported binge drinking; among 10th-grade students, the proportion was 16 percent for males and 15 percent for females. Twenty-seven percent of 12th-grade males reported binge drinking, compared with 20 percent of 12th-grade females.
  • For 12th-grade students in 2012, the percentages of White, non-Hispanic and Hispanic students who reported binge drinking were approximately double the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic students who reported binge drinking (26, 22, and 11 percent, respectively).

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90 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004/2005). Alcohol and development in youth—A multidisciplinary overview. Alcohol Research & Health, 28(3): 107–176. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh283/toc28-3.htm.