Skip to Content
E-mail Updates
Get Updates
Follow Us
Follow Us
Bookmark and Share
Share
Home » Publications » Surveillance Reports » Surveillance Report #116

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research
Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System

SURVEILLANCE REPORT #116

TRENDS IN UNDERAGE DRINKING IN THE UNITED STATES, 1991–2019


Chiung M. Chen, M.A.
Young-Hee Yoon, Ph.D.

CSR, Incorporated1
Suite 220
22375 Broderick Drive
Sterling, VA 20166


March 2021


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health

1 CSR, Incorporated, operates the Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS) under Contract No. HHSN275201800004C for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Dr. Michael E. Hilton (Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research) serves as the NIAAA Contracting Officer’s Representative on the contract.

HIGHLIGHTS

This surveillance report, prepared by the Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), presents data on underage drinking among youth ages 12–20 for 1991–2019. This is the eighth of a series of reports to be published every few years on underage drinking and related attitudes and risk behaviors. Data for this series are compiled from three separate nationally representative surveys: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Note that beginning with the 2015 NSDUH and 2017 YRBS, the threshold for female binge drinking was changed to consumption of 4 or more drinks (from 5 or more drinks) on an occasion or in a row in the past 30 days. The following are highlights of trends from 1991 through 2019.

Prevalence of use

  • Although there are marked differences in absolute values of estimates, the trends across all three survey data sources show an overall decline in the prevalence of alcohol consumption in the past 30 days between 1991 and 2019. In 2019, 18.7 percent of youth ages 12–20 reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days (NSDUH).
  • Overall, the rate of decline in the prevalence of past-30-day alcohol consumption is greater in males than in females in the last few years. The sex-specific trends for ages 12–20 converged in 2015, and the prevalence for females (20.2%) exceeded that for males (17.2%) in 2019 (NSDUH).
  • Throughout this period, rates of underage drinking remained highest among non-Hispanic whites, followed by Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks. Rates were also higher among youth ages 12–20 not enrolled in school as compared with those enrolled in school (NSDUH), although rates among full-time or part-time college students ages 18–20 remained higher than among their same-age peers not enrolled in college (data not shown).

Drinking patterns

  • The median age of initiation of drinking alcohol has increased from 13.65 years in 1991–1993 to 14.87 years in 2017–2019 (NSDUH). In addition, there has been a gradual decline in the proportion of youth reporting initiating drinking at age 12 or younger (NSDUH, YRBS).
  • Over the course of the study period, males have generally maintained higher average frequency, quantity, and volume of consumption in the past 30 days than females. In 2017–2019, youth drinkers ages 12–20 reported drinking on an average of 4.44 days in the past 30 days. They consumed an average of 3.79 drinks on the days that they drank. Their average total volume of consumption was 20.7 drinks in the past 30 days (NSDUH).
  • According to NSDUH, a household-based survey, overall rates of binge drinking increased between 1993 and 2001, from 12.1 to 18.6 percent, but have trended down to 10.6 percent in 2019. Data from the secondary school-based surveys (MTF and YRBS), by contrast, show an overall decline in binge drinking rates; the recent downward trends appear to have started in 1999 (MTF) and possibly as early as 1997 (YRBS). Persistent gaps in binge drinking rates between males and females are observed over time prior to 2016 but have narrowed (MTF) or even reversed (NSDUH, YRBS) by 2019. Despite an overall decrease in all binge drinking, the rate of decline for extreme binge (high-intensity) drinking (10+, 15+ drinks in a row) has been slower than for traditional binge drinking (5+ drinks in a row) (MTF).

Alcohol-related attitudes

  • The percentages of youth who strongly disapprove of others regularly consuming alcohol or binge drinking and who consider regular or binge drinking a great risk (MTF) show a declining trend during the 1990s, particularly in the early 1990s. The trend was reversed in the 2000s, showing a gradual increase for ten years or so. However, the percentages among females have started to decline since 2011. Although the Healthy People 2020 target for binge drinking was met by 2019, the attitudes toward alcohol harms, which are more relevant for prevention purposes, are still below the target (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services n.d.-a).

Alcohol-related risk behaviors

  • Between 1991 and 2019, trends from the YRBS show an overall decline in the prevalence of driving while under the influence of alcohol among secondary school youth, and similar downward trends are observed in the NSDUH data after 2002. The NSDUH data show consistently higher prevalence but a more precipitous decline from 2002–2004 to 2017–2019 among non-Hispanic whites (11.9% to 2.9%) compared to Hispanics (7.5% to 2.0%) and non-Hispanic blacks (4.6% to 1.1%) for both sexes.

INTRODUCTION

This surveillance report on underage drinking is one of a series of reports published to monitor trends in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related morbidity and mortality. These reports are prepared by the Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS), and Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and are intended to be useful to researchers, planners, policymakers, and other professionals interested in alcohol misuse by young people and its associated consequences. In 2007, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking brought renewed focus to this issue. The Call to Action reviewed the risk factors and outcomes associated with underage drinking, presented a developmental framework for understanding and addressing underage drinking, and identified six goals for the Nation to address the problem of underage drinking. This surveillance report responds to Goal 5, “Work to improve public health surveillance on underage drinking and on population-based risk factors for this behavior” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2007, p. 37). The data presented herein also are essential in assessing changes toward meeting one of the Nation’s health behavior goals to reduce misuse of drugs and alcohol (e.g., underage drinking) as stated in Healthy People 2030 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services n.d.-b). This is the eighth surveillance report on underage drinking developed by NIAAA. AEDS will issue follow-up reports on this topic every few years.

Rates of alcohol consumption among underage youth are a cause for concern (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2004). In this report, 18.7 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days (2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health [NSDUH]). This is a decrease from the rate of 33.4 percent nearly three decades earlier (1991 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse [NHSDA]), although changes in survey methodology preclude a direct comparison of these two estimates. In the United States, alcohol consumption begins early, with a median age of 14.87 years (2017–2019 NSDUH), and 15.0 percent of high school students reporting that they consumed their first drink of alcohol before age 13 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2020). By the 12th grade, 14.4 percent of adolescents report binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks in a row within the past 2 weeks) (2019 Monitoring the Future [MTF]).

Underage drinking is associated with an array of social, emotional, behavioral, and health problems (Committee on Substance Abuse 2010; Masten et al. 2009; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 2012; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2018). For example, alcohol use caused youth to behave in ways they later regretted, interfered with their ability to think clearly, or caused them to drive unsafely. Youth who drink and drive are at increased risk of involvement in accidents because of the duality of alcohol-related impairment and relative driving inexperience (Peck et al. 2008). Underage drinking is associated with not only driving after consuming alcohol but also riding with a peer who has consumed alcohol (Li et al. 2018; Miller et al. 2007; O’Malley and Johnston 2013; Terry-McElrath et al. 2014; Vaca et al. 2020). When youth consume alcohol, they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sexual intercourse, having multiple partners, and being drunk or high during intercourse (Brookmeyer and Henrich 2009; Chernick et al. 2020; Nkansah-Amankra et al. 2011; Oshri et al. 2013; Scroggins et al. 2021; Seth et al. 2011; Storholm et al. 2018; Stueve and O’Donnell 2005). This puts them at risk of adverse consequences, such as sexual victimization (Basile et al. 2020; Champion et al. 2004; Thompson et al. 2012), unwanted pregnancy (Salas-Wright et al. 2015), and sexually transmitted infections (Chung et al. 2017; Cook et al. 2002; Khan et al. 2012). Adolescents under the influence of alcohol or with a history of drinking alcohol are also more likely to engage in violence, such as physical fighting and assault (Blitstein et al. 2005; Kedia et al. 2020; Kodjo et al. 2004; Salas-Wright et al. 2016; Swahn et al. 2004, 2013; Wells et al. 2004). Adolescent alcohol use disorder and alcohol intoxication while depressed increase the risk for suicidal behavior (Chatterji et al. 2004; Esposito-Smythers and Spirito 2004; Ganz and Sher 2009; McManama O’Brien et al. 2014; Schilling et al. 2009). Several studies have established a convincing link between youth alcohol use, particularly binge drinking, and illicit drug use (Esser et al. 2021; Jones et al. 2020; Miller et al. 2007; Siliquini et al. 2012), and identified distinct brain networks that predispose adolescents to risky behaviors, such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol (Hammerslag and Gulley 2016; Jacobus and Tapert 2013; Lees et al. 2019; Squeglia and Gray 2016; Whelan et al. 2012). In 2017, among youth ages 12 to 17 who were heavy drinkers (i.e., having consumed 5 or more drinks for males or 4 or more drinks for females on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days), 74.2 percent were current illicit drug users and 69.4 percent were current marijuana users. By contrast, the respective percentages among youth who were not current alcohol users were 4.3 percent for current illicit drug use and 3.1 percent for current marijuana use (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality 2018).

Despite declines in overall alcohol use among teens for nearly three decades, Miech and colleagues (2020) found that among 12th graders surveyed in 2019, 14.4 percent reported consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks, 5.3 percent reported consuming 10 or more drinks, and 3.2 percent reported consuming 15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the last 2 weeks. This type of extreme binge drinking in particular puts youth at risk for injuries, alcohol-related suicide, homicide, sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, motor vehicle crashes, other drug use, alcohol use disorder, memory blackouts, altered brain development, poor academic performance (Evans-Polce et al. 2017; Hingson and White 2013, 2014; Hingson and Zha 2018; Patrick and Azar 2018; White and Hingson 2013; White et al. 2011), and adverse effects on new verbal learning (Carbia et al. 2017; Lees et al. 2020; Nguyen-Louie et al. 2016).

Adolescents are particularly sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol because their brain development is not fully complete. Alcohol consumption in adolescence disrupts normal brain maturation in several regions (e.g., prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum), resulting in neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits (Courtney et al. 2019; Cservenka and Nagel 2016; Guerri and Pascual 2010; Jacobus and Tapert 2013; López-Caneda et al. 2019; Pascual et al. 2018; Spear 2014, 2016, 2018; Squeglia et al. 2009, 2014a, 2014b; Sullivan et al. 2020; Welch et al. 2013; White and Swartzwelder 2005; Zhao et al. 2020). Neuroimaging, neurophysiological, and neuropsychological studies show that deviations from the expected developmental trajectories in key frontal and limbic regions and functional brain networks predispose youth to binge drinking. This further exacerbates disruptions in adolescent brain development through structural, functional, and cognitive aberrations, such as accelerated gray matter volume reductions in cortical and subcortical regions; attenuated growth in white matter structures associated with axonal myelination; and alterations in brain activation for cognitive control (executive functioning) tasks involving working memory, inhibition, and decision making (Carbia et al. 2018; Feldstein Ewing et al. 2014; Jones et al. 2018; Lees et al. 2019, 2020; Müller-Oehring et al. 2018; Pfefferbaum et al. 2018; Silveira et al. 2020; Squeglia et al. 2017). Results from preclinical studies have shown long-lasting adverse effects of adolescent alcohol exposures on brain structure and function, neurogenesis, and cognitive and neurobehavioral consequences in adulthood through neuroimmune, neurotrophic, epigenetic gene expression, and neurobiological alterations at the molecular, cellular, and physiological levels (Coleman et al. 2014; Crews et al. 2016, 2019; Fernandez et al. 2016; Gass et al. 2014; Gilpin et al. 2012; Hiller-Sturmhöfel and Spear 2018; Logrip et al. 2013; Macht et al. 2020; Semenova 2012; Spear 2016; Taffe et al. 2010; Vetreno et al. 2016).

A large body of literature has found that age at initiation of drinking (i.e., the first consumption of a full drink) is associated with future drinking patterns and alcohol-related risk behaviors (Blomeyer et al. 2013; Buchmann et al. 2009; Caetano et al. 2014; Dawson et al. 2007, 2008; Deutsch et al. 2013; Faden 2006; Guttmannova et al. 2011; Hermos et al. 2008; Hingson and Zha 2009; Hingson et al. 2002, 2006; Holligan et al. 2019; Kim et al. 2017; Lee et al. 2012; Liang and Chikritzhs 2013; McBride et al. 2014; Stueve and O’Donnell 2005; Swahn et al. 2008, 2013; Warner and White 2003; Wells et al. 2004; York et al. 2004; Young et al. 2006; Zakrajsek and Shope 2006). For example, early age at drinking initiation is associated with past-year drinking (Lee et al. 2012), frequency and quantity of drinking (Aiken et al. 2018; Deutsch et al. 2013), volume of drinking (Caetano et al. 2014), binge drinking (Aiken et al. 2018; Buchmann et al. 2009; Caetano et al. 2014; Liang and Chikritzhs 2013), getting drunk and high, self-reports of substance use interfering with life activities (Stueve and O’Donnell 2005), alcohol abuse and dependence later in life (Caetano et al. 2014; Caamano-Isorna et al. 2020; Dawson et al. 2008; Grant et al. 2001; Guttmannova et al. 2011; York et al. 2004), prescription drug misuse (Arterberry et al. 2016; Hermos et al. 2008), comorbid reports of physical fighting and suicide attempts (Swahn et al. 2013), and dating violence victimization and perpetration (Swahn et al. 2008; Waterman et al. 2019). Moreover, age at initiation of drinking is associated with driving after drinking and being involved in drinking-related vehicle crashes (Hingson et al. 2002), risky driving and alcohol-related driving offenses (Zakrajsek and Shope 2006), unintentionally injuring oneself and others when under the influence of alcohol (Hingson and Zha 2009), and increased risk for alcohol-related neurocognitive vulnerabilities and poor neuropsychological functioning (Nguyen-Louie et al. 2017).

DATA SOURCES

Data for this report are drawn from three sources: the NSDUH, the MTF survey, and the YRBS.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health

The NSDUH (formerly the NHSDA) is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The nationally representative survey was initiated in 1971 and has been administered annually since 1991. The survey is administered at the household level through in-person interviews. Since 1999, computer-assisted interviewing methods have been used, including audio computer-assisted self-interviewing for selected survey components. In this same year, the survey sample was expanded to allow for computation of State-specific prevalence estimates. In 2002, the survey was given its new name (NSDUH), and additional methodological changes were made that affected some prevalence rates and represented a new baseline. These included a $30 incentive to all respondents that resulted in substantial increases in response rates and improved data quality-control measures. In 2002 and 2011, new population data from the 2000 and 2010 decennial Censuses, respectively, became available for use in NSDUH sample weighting procedures. Unlike previous designs that divide the sample approximately equally among three age groups—12 to 17 years, 18 to 25 years, and 26 years or older—the 2014/2015 design places more sample (50%) in the 26 years or older age group to provide more accurate estimates for the aging drug use population. The partial questionnaire redesign in 2015 changes the threshold of binge alcohol use from 5 or more drinks for both sexes to 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females on an occasion in the past 30 days. All respondents ages 12–20 years from the NSDUH public-use data were selected for this surveillance report.

Monitoring the Future

The MTF survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted annually by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. The MTF survey was initiated in 1975 among 12th graders only, and 8th and 10th graders were added in 1991, providing a nationally representative sample of secondary-school students in those grades. The survey is administered in school to a sample of students enrolled in public and private secondary schools. Since 1976, a random sample of 12th graders has been followed biannually through a self-administered mail-back questionnaire. The MTF survey defines extreme binge (high-intensity) drinking as having 10 or more or 15 or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks and introduced this measure in the 12th-grader surveys in 2005. For this surveillance report, all respondents from the 8th, 10th, and 12th grade samples were included in the analyses.

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The YRBS is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered every 2 years to students enrolled in public or private schools in grades 9 through 12. Initiated in 1991, the survey provides a nationally representative sample of youth enrolled in high school. Beginning in 2017, YRBS changed the threshold of binge alcohol use from 5 or more drinks for both sexes to 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females in a row in the past 30 days. All respondents from the biannual surveys were included in this surveillance report.

All three sources of data for this surveillance report are nationally representative repeated cross-sectional surveys that provide data on youth alcohol consumption and related risk behaviors. As described above, there are also important differences among the three surveys related to the ages of youth sampled, the timing of the survey, the setting of survey administration and consequent type of youth sampled and level of anonymity involved, and the wording of the questions. Specifications of the three surveys are summarized in the Appendix and briefly reviewed here.

Age-Groups

Whereas NSDUH collects information on youth as young as 12, the YRBS collects information from youth in grades 9 through 12, and MTF skips grades, surveying youth in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades.

Periodicity

Both NSDUH and MTF are administered annually, whereas the YRBS collects data every 2 years.

Survey Administration Location

As school-based surveys, MTF and YRBS collect data only on youth currently enrolled in school. Data from NSDUH cover both youth enrolled in school and those not enrolled. The different settings of the survey administration contribute to different levels of anonymity. For example, on the one hand, youth may feel comfortable about revealing sensitive information, such as alcohol and other drug use, in the more anonymous school setting than at home (Faden et al. 2004; Fendrich and Johnson 2001; Fowler and Stringfellow 2001; Sudman 2001). On the other hand, youth may also respond to perceived peer influence in the school setting and thus may exaggerate certain risk behaviors in their self-reports; such effects are hard to assess (Fowler and Stringfellow 2001; Harrison 2001). Therefore, although alcohol consumption rates may be under-reported in the NSDUH, they may be inflated in the MTF and YRBS datasets.

Question Wording

The three surveys differ in the number and wording of questions on alcohol consumption and on related risk behaviors. The reference period for all surveys is generally the past 30 days. However, MTF asks about binge drinking in the past 2 weeks, whereas the other surveys ask about it in the past month. NSDUH and YRBS ask about age at initiation of drinking, but MTF asks about grade at initiation of drinking. All surveys ask about driving under the influence, but MTF asks only the 12th graders. MTF frames the question around whether the respondent has ever received a moving violation ticket or warning after drinking alcohol. Only in one of the six questionnaire forms does MTF ask 12th graders the questions about driving after drinking alcohol or having 5 or more drinks in a row. The Appendix specifies the wording used in each survey for the indicators included in the report. Data tables and figures are not provided for all questions listed.

METHODS

This surveillance report tracks alcohol consumption and associated behaviors among youth ages 12–20 years old. Age 12 is the youngest age for which nationally representative data are available (from NSDUH). Age 20 is the last year before youth are legally allowed to drink alcohol. Findings are presented for 1991 through 2019, the latest year for which data are available for this report from all three data sources. For new indicators collected only in the past several years, all available data are reported (i.e., detailed data by race, data on selected alcohol-related risk behaviors).

Definitions

The report presents trend data on different categories of indicators for alcohol consumption and related risk behaviors, including prevalence of use, pattern of use, alcohol-related attitudes, and alcohol-related risk behaviors. Definitions of measures used, including descriptions of calculated measures, are provided below:

  • Prevalence of use
    • – Any drinking of alcohol in the past 30 days (more than just a sip or two from a drink)
  • Initiation of drinking
    • – Age at first use of alcohol
    • – Initiating drinking at age 12 years or younger
  • Frequency of use
    • – Number of drinking days in the past 30 days
  • Quantity of use
    • – Usual number of drinks on drinking days in the past 30 days
  • Volume of use
    • – Total number of drinks in the past 30 days, computed as frequency multiplied by quantity in the past 30 days
  • Binge drinking
    • – Any drinking of 5 or more drinks on an occasion (in a row) in the past 30 days (for NSDUH 1991–2014 and YRBS 1991–2015) or in the past 2 weeks (for MTF); any drinking of 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females on an occasion in the past 30 days (for NSDUH 2015–2019 and YRBS 2017–2019)
    • – Frequency of drinking 5 or more drinks (for NSDUH 1991–2014) or 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females (for NSDUH 2015–2019) on an occasion in the past 30 days
    • – Frequency of drinking 5 or more drinks (for NSDUH 1991–2014) or 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females (for NSDUH 2015–2019) on an occasion in the past 30 days, categorized as 0 days, 1–2 days, 3–4 days, and 5 or more days
  • Extreme binge (high-intensity) drinking (i.e., twice or three times as much as the traditional 5-drink cutoff)
    • – Any drinking of 10 or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks
    • – Any drinking of 15 or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks
  • Drunkenness
    • – Having been drunk or very high from drinking in the past 30 days
  • Alcohol-related attitudes
    • – Disapproval of consuming 1 or 2 drinks nearly every day, categorized as don’t disapprove, disapprove, and strongly disapprove
    • – Disapproval of consuming 5 or more drinks once or twice each weekend, categorized as don’t disapprove, disapprove, and strongly disapprove
    • – Perception of risk of harm for those drinking 1 or 2 drinks nearly every day, categorized as no risk, slight risk, moderate risk, and great risk
    • – Perception of risk of harm for those drinking 5 or more drinks once or twice each weekend, categorized as no risk, slight risk, moderate risk, and great risk
  • Alcohol-related risk behaviors
    • – Driving after drinking alcohol in the past 30 days
    • – Riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking in the past 30 days
    • – Drinking alcohol or using drugs before last sexual intercourse
    • – Drinking and activity with risk of physical danger in the past 12 months
    • – Drinking and getting into legal trouble in the past 12 months
    • – Problems with family or friends caused by drinking in the past 12 months

Analyses

Analyses in this report are mainly descriptive. The report examines a wide range of relevant data over multiple years and discusses observed changes without reference to more complicated statistical analyses of trends, such as those used by Faden and Fay (2004) and Faden (2006). The exceptions are Figures 1-1, 1-2, 6-1, and 6-2, where the trends in prevalence of drinking and binge drinking are represented by segmented lines that were fitted using joinpoint (piecewise) regression models (Kim et al. 2000). These lines indicate significant changes in the trends over time.

For different analyses, data are presented by sex, race (non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black) and Hispanic origin, age or current school grade, and school enrollment status. More detailed data by race and Hispanic origin (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian/Native Hawaiian Islander/Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic, more than one race) are presented in the tables for 1999–2019. To increase the stability of estimates, prevalence estimates by age are presented in age groupings in the tables, specifically ages 12–14, 15–17, and 18–20. In the figures, these prevalence estimates are shown by single age and grade. Three-year moving averages are used for tracking certain alcohol consumption measures to minimize data suppression problems for groups with small sample sizes (e.g., number of drinkers in the 12–14 age group) and to avoid large fluctuations in point estimates. For selected indicators, trend data from the three data sources are compared in separate graphs. Because of the large age span of the NSDUH and its inclusion of youth enrolled and not enrolled in school, more detailed analyses by demographic characteristics are presented for the NSDUH only. We present results from secondary data analysis for NSDUH and YRBS data, because publicly available reports on these surveys do not cover all the indicators, categories, and age groupings applicable to this report. When applicable estimates by grade are publicly available from MTF reports, we present them in tables to facilitate comparison across different surveys. We present our secondary analysis results based on public-use MTF data only when the aggregate estimates are not publicly available elsewhere. Because some MTF questions are asked only of subsamples, we note in the MTF figures and tables when estimates are based on data from subsamples.

To ensure reliability of findings presented, all outlier values were censored. Specifically, cases with reported alcohol consumption of greater than 20 drinks per drinking day were truncated at 20 drinks on drinking days. Cases with missing values for an indicator of interest were excluded from analysis for that indicator.

To enable readers to assess the precision of the estimates provided, each estimate is accompanied by a value for the standard error of the estimate (labeled S.E. in the tables). Multiplying the standard error by 1.96 provides a margin of error above and below each estimate. This range defines a 95-percent confidence interval that implies that 95 percent of such calculated intervals over repeated independent sampling are expected to contain the true value being estimated. Estimates with very large standard errors can be extremely unreliable. The reliability of estimates (r) was assessed using the relative standard error (RSE), computed as RSE = 100 x (SE(r)/r). Following the recommendations of the National Center for Health Statistics (Klein et al. 2002), estimates with RSE > 17.5 percent were considered of low reliability and are marked in the tables with the symbol #.

Limitations

Due to differences in sample populations (i.e., only school-enrolled youth vs. both enrolled and not enrolled youth; 12- to 20-year-olds for NSDUH vs. 8th, 10th, and 12th graders for MTF vs. 9th–12th graders for YRBS) and survey administration (i.e., in school vs. at home), comparisons among the three data sources should be made with caution. Numerous factors contribute to lower estimates of adolescent alcohol use in NSDUH than in MTF or YRBS and lower estimates in MTF than in YRBS, including interview privacy, survey focus, prominence of mentions of substance use, procedures for obtaining parental permission, assurances of anonymity or confidentiality, placement and context of substance use questions in the interview, survey mode, and structure and wording of survey questions (SAMHSA 2012). Despite differences in prevalence estimates across surveys within a single year, it is possible to compare trends across years. For example, there are marked differences in absolute values of past-30-day alcohol consumption prevalence among findings from NSDUH, MTF, and YRBS; however, trend lines from all three surveys show a decrease in prevalence between 1997 and 2019.

Furthermore, NSDUH had a major change of design during this period. Close examination of the NSDUH data for past-30-day consumption shows a steep decrease in rates between 1998 and 1999 followed by an increase from 1999 to 2003. It is not clear if this is a real increase or an artifact of the 1999 methodological changes. The 2002 methodological changes—including the respondent incentive and the improved data collection quality-control measures—also may have resulted in higher self-reported substance use by respondents (SAMHSA 2003). Caution should be taken in comparing estimates from before and after 1999 as well as from before and after 2002. The major change in survey methodology of 1999 and the additional changes of 2002 are marked with shading in the graphs in this report. Beginning in 2015, the partial questionnaire redesign lowered the threshold of binge drinking for females from 5 or more drinks to 4 or more drinks in a row in the past 30 days and could potentially affect the trends by artificially inflating the prevalence estimates for females and for both sexes combined. This also applies to YRBS beginning in 2017. Prevalence estimates from NSDUH included in this report may differ slightly from those presented in reports issued by SAMHSA, as SAMHSA analysts use a restricted-use dataset for their analyses. The same is true with estimates generated from our secondary analysis of public-use MTF data.

REFERENCES

Aiken, A.; Clare, P.J.; Wadolowski, M.; Hutchinson, D.; Najman, J.M.; Slade, T.; Bruno, R.; McBride, N.; Kypri, K.; and Mattick, R.P. Age of alcohol initiation and progression to binge drinking in adolescence: A prospective cohort study. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 42(1):100–110, 2018.

Arterberry, B.J.; Horbal, S.R.; Buu, A.; and Lin, H.C. The effects of alcohol, cannabis, and cigarette use on the initiation, reinitiation and persistence of non-medical use of opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers in adults. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 159:86–92, 2016.

Basile, K.C.; Clayton, H.B.; Rostad, W.L.; and Leemis, R.W. Sexual violence victimization of youth and health risk behaviors. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 58(4):570–579, 2020.

Blitstein, J.L.; Murray, D.M.; Lytle, L.A.; Birnbaum, A.S.; and Perry, C.L. Predictors of violent behavior in early adolescent cohort: Similarities and differences across genders. Health Education and Behavior 32(2):175–194, 2005.

Blomeyer, D.; Friemel, C.M.; Buchmann, A.F.; Banaschewski, T.; Laucht, M.; and Schneider, M. Impact of pubertal stage at first drink on adult drinking behavior. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 37(10):1804–1811, 2013.

Brookmeyer, K.A., and Henrich, C.C. Disentangling adolescent pathways of sexual risk taking. Journal of Primary Prevention 30(6):677–696, 2009.

Buchmann, A.F.; Schmid, B.; Blomeyer, D.; Becker, K.; Treutlein, J.; Zimmermann, U.S.; Jennen-Steinmetz, C.; Schmidt, M.H.; Esser, G.; Banaschewski, T.; Rietschel, M.; Schumann, G.; and Laucht, M. Impact of age at first drink on vulnerability to alcohol-related problems: Testing the marker hypothesis in a prospective study of young adults. Journal of Psychiatric Research 43(15):1205–1212, 2009.

Caamano-Isorna, F.; Adkins, A.; Aliev, F.; Moure-Rodríguez, L.; and Dick, D.M. Population attributable fraction of early age of onset of alcohol use in alcohol abuse and dependence: A 3-year follow-up study in university students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(6):2159, 2020.

Caetano, R.; Mills, B.A.; Vaeth, P.A.; and Reingle, J. Age at first drink, drinking, binge drinking, and DSM-5 alcohol use disorder among Hispanic national groups in the United States. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 38(5):1381–1389, 2014.

Carbia, C.; Cadaveira, F.; Caamaño-Isorna, F.; Rodríguez-Holguín, S.; and Corral, M. Binge drinking during adolescence and young adulthood is associated with deficits in verbal episodic memory. PLoS One 12(2):e0171393, 2017.

Carbia, C.; López-Caneda, E.; Corral, M.; and Cadaveira, F. A systematic review of neuropsychological studies involving young binge drinkers. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 90:332–349, 2018.

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf. Accessed November 16, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in the Prevalence of Alcohol Use National YRBS: 1991–2019. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/factsheets/2019_alcohol_trend_yrbs.htm. Accessed November 13, 2020.

Champion, H.L.; Foley, K.L.; DuRant, R.H.; Hensberry, R.; Altman, D.; and Wolfson, M. Adolescent sexual victimization, use of alcohol and other substances, and other mental health risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health 35(4):321–328, 2004.

Chatterji, P.; Dave, D.; Kaestner, R.; and Markowitz, S. Alcohol abuse and suicide attempts among youth. Economics and Human Biology 2:159–180, 2004.

Chernick, L.S.; Chun, T.H.; Richards, R.; Bromberg, J.R.; Ahmad, F.A.; McAninch, B.; Mull, C.; Shenoi, R.; Suffoletto, B.; Casper, C.; Linakis, J.; Spirito, A.; and Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network. Sex without contraceptives in a multicenter study of adolescent emergency department patients. Academic Emergency Medicine 27(4):283–290, 2020.

Chung, T.; Ye, F.; Hipwell, A.E.; Stepp, S.D.; Miller, E.; Borrero, S.; and Hawk, M. Alcohol and marijuana use in pathways of risk for sexually transmitted infection in white and black adolescent females. Substance Abuse 38(1):77–81, 2017.

Coleman, L.G., Jr.; Liu, W.; Oguz, I.; Styner, M.; and Crews, F.T. Adolescent binge ethanol treatment alters adult brain regional volumes, cortical extracellular matrix protein and behavioral flexibility. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 116:142–151, 2014.

Committee on Substance Abuse. Policy statement—Alcohol use by youth and adolescents: A pediatric concern. Pediatrics 125(5):1078–1087, 2010.

Cook, R.L.; Pollock, N.K.; Rao, A.K.; and Clark, D.B. Increased prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 among adolescent women with alcohol use disorders. Journal of Adolescent Health 30(3):169–174, 2002.

Courtney, K.E.; Li, I.; and Tapert, S.F. The effect of alcohol use on neuroimaging correlates of cognitive and emotional processing in human adolescence. Neuropsychology 33(6):781–794, 2019.

Crews, F.T.; Vetreno, R.P.; Broadwater, M.A.; and Robinson, D.L. Adolescent alcohol exposure persistently impacts adult neurobiology and behavior. Pharmacological Reviews 68:1074–1109, 2016.

Crews, F.T.; Robinson, D.L.; Chandler, L.J.; Ehlers, C.L.; Mulholland, P.J.; Pandey, S.C.; Rodd, Z.A.; Spear, L.P.; Swartzwelder, H.S.; and Vetreno, R.P. Mechanisms of persistent neurobiological changes following adolescent alcohol exposure: NADIA Consortium findings. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 43(9):1806–1822, 2019.

Cservenka, A., and Nagel, B.J. Neuroscience of alcohol for addiction medicine: Neurobiological targets for prevention and intervention in adolescents. Progress in Brain Research 223:215–235, 2016.

Dawson, D.A.; Goldstein, R.B.; Chou, S.P.; Ruan, W.J.; and Grant, B.F. Age at first drink and the first incidence of adult-onset DSM-IV alcohol use disorders. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 32(12):2149–2160, 2008.

Dawson, D.A.; Grant, B.F.; and Li, T.K. Impact of age at first drink on stress-reactive drinking. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31(1):69–77, 2007.

Deutsch, A.R.; Slutske, W.S.; Richmond-Rakerd, L.S.; Chernyavskiy, P.; Heath, A.C.; and Martin, N.G. Causal influence of age at first drink on alcohol involvement in adulthood and its moderation by familial context. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 74(5):703–713, 2013.

Esposito-Smythers, C., and Spirito, A. Adolescent substance use and suicidal behavior: A review with implications for treatment research. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 28(5):77S–88S, 2004.

Esser, M.B.; Pickens, C.M.; Guy, G.P; and Evans, M.E. Binge drinking, other substance use, and concurrent use in the U.S., 2016–2018. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 60(2):169–178, 2021.

Evans-Polce, R.J.; Patrick, M.E.; and O’Malley, P.M. Prospective associations of 12th-grade drinking intensity and age 19/20 driving-related consequences. Journal of Adolescent Health 61(3):389–391, 2017.

Faden, V.B. Trends in initiation of alcohol use in the United States 1975–2003. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 30(6):1011–1022, 2006.

Faden, V.B., and Fay, M.P. Trends in drinking among Americans age 18 and younger. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 28(9):1388–1395, 2004.

Faden, V.B.; Day, N.L.; Windle, M.; Windle, R.; Grube, J.W.; Molina, B.S.; Pelham, W.E., Jr.; Gnagy, E.M.; Wilson, T.K.; Jackson, K.M.; and Sher, K.J. Collecting longitudinal data through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood: Methodological challenges. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 28(2):330–340, 2004.

Feldstein Ewing, S.W.; Sakhardande, A.; and Blakemore, S.-J. The effect of alcohol consumption on the adolescent brain: A systematic review of MRI and fMRI studies of alcohol-using youth. NeuroImage: Clinical 5:420–437, 2014.

Fendrich, M., and Johnson, T.P. Examining prevalence differences in three national surveys of youth: Impact of consent procedures, mode, and editing rules. Journal of Drug Issues 31(3):615–642, 2001.

Fernandez, G.M.; Stewart, W.N.; and Savage, L.M. Chronic drinking during adolescence predisposes the adult rat for continued heavy drinking: Neurotrophin and behavioral adaptation after long-term, continuous ethanol exposure. PLoS One 11(3):e0149987, 2016.

Fowler, F.J., and Stringfellow, V.L. Learning from experience: Estimating teen use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana from three survey protocols. Journal of Drug Issues 31(3):643–664, 2001.

Ganz, D., and Sher, L. Suicidal behavior in adolescents with comorbid depression and alcohol abuse. Minerva Pediatrica 61(3):333–347, 2009.

Gass, J.T.; Glen, W.B., Jr.; McGonigal, J.T.; Trantham-Davidson, H.; Lopez, M.F.; Randall, P.K.; Yaxley, R.; Floresco, S.B.; and Chandler, L.J. Adolescent alcohol exposure reduces behavioral flexibility, promotes disinhibition, and increases resistance to extinction of ethanol self-administration in adulthood. Neuropsychopharmacology 39(11):2570–2583, 2014.

Gilpin, N.W.; Karanikas, C.A.; and Richardson, H.N. Adolescent binge drinking leads to changes in alcohol drinking, anxiety, and amygdalar corticotropin releasing factor cells in adulthood in male rats. PLoS One 7(2):e31466, 2012.

Grant, B.F.; Stinson, F.S.; and Harford, T.C. Age at onset of alcohol use and DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: A 12-year follow-up. Journal of Substance Abuse 13(4):493–504, 2001.

Guerri, C., and Pascual, M. Mechanisms involved in the neurotoxic, cognitive, and neurobehavioral effects of alcohol consumption during adolescence. Alcohol 44(1):15–26, 2010.

Guttmannova, K.; Bailey, J.A.; Hill, K.G.; Lee, J.O.; Hawkins, J.D.; Woods, M.L.; and Catalano, R.F. Sensitive periods for adolescent alcohol use initiation: Predicting the lifetime occurrence and chronicity of alcohol problems in adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 72:221–231, 2011.

Hammerslag, L.R., and Gulley, J.M. Sex differences in behavior and neural development and their role in adolescent vulnerability to substance use. Behavioural Brain Research 298(Pt A):15–26, 2016.

Harrison, L.D. Understanding the differences in youth drug prevalence rates produced by the MTF, NHSDA, and YRBS studies. Journal of Drug Issues 31(3):665–694, 2001.

Hermos, J.A.; Winter, M.R.; Heeren, T.C.; and Hingson, R.W. Early age-of-onset drinking predicts prescription drug misuse among teenagers and young adults: Results from a national survey. Journal of Addiction Medicine 2(1):22–30, 2008.

Hiller-Sturmhöfel, S., and Spear, L.P. Binge drinking’s effects on the developing brain-animal models. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):77–86, 2018.

Hingson, R., and White, A. New research findings since the 2007 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A review. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 75(1):158–169, 2014.

Hingson, R.W., and White, A. Trends in extreme binge drinking among U.S. high school seniors. JAMA Pediatrics 167(11): 996–998, 2013.

Hingson, R.W., and Zha, W. Age of drinking onset, alcohol use disorders, frequent heavy drinking, and unintentionally injuring oneself and others after drinking. Pediatrics 123(6):1477–1484, 2009.

Hingson, R.W., and Zha, W. Binge drinking above and below twice the adolescent thresholds and health-risk behaviors. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 42(5):904–913, 2018.

Hingson, R.; Heeren, T.; Levenson, S.; Jamanka, A.; and Voas, R. Age of drinking onset, driving after drinking, and involvement in alcohol-related motor-vehicle crashes. Accident Analysis and Prevention 34(1):85–92, 2002.

Hingson, R.W.; Heeren, T.; and Winter, M.R. Age at drinking onset and alcohol dependence: Age at onset, duration, and severity. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160:739–746, 2006.

Holligan, S.D.; Battista, K.; de Groh, M.; Jiang, Y.; and Leatherdale, S.T. Age at first alcohol use predicts current alcohol use, binge drinking and mixing of alcohol with energy drinks among Ontario Grade 12 students in the COMPASS study. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada: Research, Policy and Practice 39(11):298–305, 2019.

Jacobus, J., and Tapert, S.F. Neurotoxic effects of alcohol in adolescence. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 9:703–721, 2013.

Jones, C.M.; Clayton, H.B.; Deputy, N.P.; Roehler, D.R.; Ko, J.Y.; Esser, M.B.; Brookmeyer, K.A.; and Hertz, M.F. Prescription opioid misuse and use of alcohol and other substances among high school students—Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Supplements 69(1):38–46, 2020.

Jones, S.A.; Lueras, J.M.; and Nagel, B.J. Effects of binge drinking on the developing brain. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):87–96, 2018.

Kedia, S.K.; Dillon, P.J.; Jiang, Y.; James, W.; Collins, A.C.; and Bhuyan, S.S. The association between substance use and violence: Results from a nationally representative sample of high school students in the United States. Community Mental Health Journal 2020 (Epub ahead of print doi:10.1007/s10597-020-00648-x).

Khan, M.R.; Berger, A.T.; Wells, B.E.; and Cleland, C.M. Longitudinal associations between adolescent alcohol use and adulthood sexual risk behavior and sexually transmitted infection in the United States: Assessment of differences by race. American Journal of Public Health 102(5):867–876, 2012.

Kim, H.J.; Fay, M.P.; Feuer, E.J.; and Midthune, D.N. Permutation tests for joinpoint regression with applications to cancer rates. Statistics in Medicine 19(3):335–351, 2000.

Kim, M.J.; Mason, W.A.; Herrenkohl, T.I.; Catalano, R.F.; Toumbourou, J.W.; and Hemphill, S.A. Influence of early onset of alcohol use on the development of adolescent alcohol problems: A longitudinal binational study. Prevention Science 18(1):1–11, 2017.

Klein, R.J.; Proctor, S.E.; Boudreault, M.A.; and Turczyn, K.M. Healthy People 2010 criteria for data suppression. In: Statistical Notes No. 24. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, June 2002.

Kodjo, C.M.; Auinger, P.; and Ryan, S.A. Prevalence of, and factors associated with, adolescent physical fighting while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Journal of Adolescent Health 35(4):346.e11–e16, 2004.

Lee, L.O.; Young-Wolff, K.C.; Kendler, K.S.; and Prescott, C.A. The effects of age at drinking onset and stressful life events on alcohol use in adulthood: A replication and extension using a population-based twin sample. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 36(4):693–704, 2012.

Lees, B.; Meredith, L.R.; Kirkland, A.E.; Bryant, B.E.; and Squeglia, L.M. Effect of alcohol use on the adolescent brain and behavior. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 192:172906, 2020.

Lees, B.; Mewton, L.; Stapinski, L.A.; Squeglia, L.M.; Rae, C.D.; and Teesson, M. Neurobiological and cognitive profile of young binge drinkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuropsychology Review 29(3):357–385, 2019.

Li, K.; Ochoa, E.; Vaca, F.E.; and Simons-Morton, B. Emerging adults riding with marijuana-, alcohol-, or illicit drug-impaired peer and older drivers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 79(2):277–285, 2018.

Liang, W., and Chikritzhs, T. Age at first use of alcohol and risk of heavy alcohol use: A population-based study. Biomed Research International 2013:721761, 2013.

Logrip, M.L.; Rivier, C.; Lau, C.; Im, S.; Vaughan, J.; and Lee, S. Adolescent alcohol exposure alters the rat adult hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responsiveness in a sex-specific manner. Neuroscience 235:174–186, 2013.

López-Caneda, E.; Cadaveira, F.; and Campanella, S., eds. Binge Drinking in the Adolescent and Young Brain. Lausanne: Frontiers, 2019.

Macht, V.; Crews, F.T.; and Vetreno, R.P. Neuroimmune and epigenetic mechanisms underlying persistent loss of hippocampal neurogenesis following adolescent intermittent ethanol exposure. Current Opinion in Pharmacology 50:9–16, 2020.

Masten, A.S.; Faden, V.B.; Zucker, R.A.; and Spear, L.P. A developmental perspective on underage alcohol use. Alcohol Research & Health 32(1):3–15, 2009.

McBride, O.; Adamson, G.; Cheng, H.G.; and Slade, T. Changes in drinking patterns in the first years after onset: A latent transition analysis of National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 28(3):696–709, 2014.

McManama O’Brien, K.H.; Becker, S.J.; Spirito, A.; Simon, V.; and Prinstein, M.J. Differentiating adolescent suicide attempters from ideators: Examining the interaction between depression severity and alcohol use. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 44(1):23–33, 2014.

Miech, R.A.; Johnston, L.D.; O’Malley, P.M.; Bachman, J.G.; Schulenberg, J.E.; and Patrick, M.E. Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2019: Volume I, Secondary School Students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 2020.

Miller, J.W.; Naimi, T.S.; Brewer, R.D.; and Everett Jones, S. Binge drinking and associated health risk behaviors among high school students. Pediatrics 119:76–85, 2007.

Müller-Oehring, E.M.; Kwon, D.; Nagel, B.J.; Sullivan, E.V.; Chu, W.; Rohlfing, T.; Prouty, D.; Nichols, B.N.; Poline, J.-B.; Tapert, S.F.; Brown, S.A.; Cummins, K.; Brumback, T.; Colrain, I.M.; Baker, F.C.; De Bellis, M.D.; Voyvodic, J.T.; Clark, D.B.; Pfefferbaum, A.; and Pohl, K.M. Influences of age, sex, and moderate alcohol drinking on the intrinsic functional architecture of adolescent brains. Cerebral Cortex 28(3), 1049–1063, 2018.

National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, Richard J. Bonne and Mary Ellen O’Connell, eds. Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004.

Nguyen-Louie, T.T.; Matt, G.E.; Jacobus, J.; Li, I.; Cota, C.; Castro, N.; and Tapert, S.F. Earlier alcohol use onset predicts poorer neuropsychological functioning in young adults. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 41(12):2082–2092, 2017.

Nguyen-Louie, T.T.; Tracas, A.; Squeglia, L.M.; Matt, G.E.; Eberson-Shumate, S.; and Tapert, S.F. Learning and memory in adolescent moderate, binge, and extreme-binge drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 40(9):1895–1904, 2016.

Nkansah-Amankra, S.; Diedhiou, A.; Agbanu, H.L.; Harrod, C.; and Dhawan, A. Correlates of sexual risk behaviors among high school students in Colorado: Analysis and implications for school-based HIV/AIDS programs. Maternal and Child Health Journal 15(6):730–741, 2011.

O’Malley, P.M., and Johnston, L.D. Driving after drug or alcohol use by US high school seniors, 2001–2011. American Journal of Public Health 103(11):2027–2034, 2013.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Effects and Consequences of Underage Drinking. Washington, DC: OJJDP, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, September 2012. Available at: http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/237145.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2021.

Oshri, A.; Tubman, J.G.; Morgan-Lopez, A.A.; Saavedra, L.M.; and Csizmadia, A. Sexual sensation seeking, co-occurring sex and alcohol use, and sexual risk behavior among adolescents in treatment for substance use problems. American Journal on Addictions 22(3):197–205, 2013.

Pascual, M.; Montesinos, J.; and Guerri, C. Role of the innate immune system in the neuropathological consequences induced by adolescent binge drinking. Journal of Neuroscience Research 96(5):765–780, 2018.

Patrick, M.E., and Azar, B. High-intensity drinking. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):49–55, 2018.

Peck, R.C.; Gebers, M.A.; Voas, R.B.; and Romano, E. The relationship between blood alcohol concentration (BAC), age, and crash risk. Journal of Safety Research 39(3):311–319, 2008.

Pfefferbaum, A.; Kwon, D.; Brumback, T.; Thompson, W.K.; Cummins, K.; Tapert, S.F.; Brown, S.A.; Colrain, I.M.; Baker, F.C.; Prouty, D.; De Bellis, M.D.; Clark, D.B.; Nagel, B.J.; Chu, W.; Park, S.H.; Pohl, K.M.; and Sullivan, E.V. Altered brain developmental trajectories in adolescents after initiating drinking. American Journal of Psychiatry 175(4):370–380, 2018.

Salas-Wright, C.P.; Gonzalez, J.M.R.; Vaughn, M.G.; Schwartz, S.J.; and Jetelina, K.K. Age-related changes in the relationship between alcohol use and violence from early adolescence to young adulthood. Addictive Behaviors Reports 4:13–17, 2016.

Salas-Wright, C.P.; Vaughn, M.G.; Ugalde, J.; and Todic, J. Substance use and teen pregnancy in the United States: Evidence from the NSDUH 2002–2012. Addictive Behaviors 45C:218–225, 2015.

Schilling, E.A.; Aseltine, R.H., Jr.; Glanovsky, J.L.; James, A.; and Jacobs, D. Adolescent alcohol use, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Journal of Adolescent Health 44(4):335–341, 2009.

Scroggins, S., and Shacham, E. What a difference a drink makes: Determining associations between alcohol-use patterns and condom utilization among adolescents. Alcohol and Alcoholism 56(1):34–37, 2021.

Semenova, S. Attention, impulsivity, and cognitive flexibility in adult male rats exposed to ethanol binge during adolescence as measured in the five-choice serial reaction time task: The effects of task and ethanol challenges. Psychopharmacology (Berlin) 219(2):433–442, 2012.

Seth, P.; Sales, J.M.; DiClemente, R.J.; Wingood, G.M.; Rose, E.; and Patel, S.N. Longitudinal examination of alcohol use: A predictor of risky sexual behavior and Trichomonas vaginalis among African-American female adolescents. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 38(2):96–101, 2011.

Siliquini, R.; Colombo, A.; Berchialla, P.; and Bert, F. Binge drinking and psychoactive drug use in a cohort of European youths. Journal of Public Health Research 1(1):83–88, 2012.

Silveira, S.; Shah, R.; Nooner, K.B.; Nagel, B.J.; Tapert, S.F.; de Bellis, M.D.; and Mishra, J. Impact of childhood trauma on executive function in adolescence—mediating functional brain networks and prediction of high-risk drinking. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 5(5):499–509, 2020.

Spear, L.P. Adolescents and alcohol: Acute sensitivities, enhanced intake, and later consequences. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 41:51–59, 2014.

Spear, L.P. Consequences of adolescent use of alcohol and other drugs: Studies using rodent models. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 70:228–243, 2016.

Spear, L.P. Effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 19(4):197–214, 2018.

Squeglia, L.M.; Ball, T.M.; Jacobus, J.; Brumback, T.; McKenna, B.S.; Nguyen-Louie, T.T.; Sorg, S.F.; Paulus, M.P.; and Tapert, S.F. Neural predictors of initiating alcohol use during adolescence. American Journal of Psychiatry 174(2):172–185, 2017.

Squeglia, L.M.; Boissoneault, J.; Van Skike, C.E.; Nixon, S.J.; and Matthews, D.B. Age-related effects of alcohol from adolescent, adult, and aged populations using human and animal models. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 38(10):2509–2516, 2014a.

Squeglia, L.M., and Gray, K.M. Alcohol and drug use and the developing brain. Current Psychiatry Reports 18(5):46, 2016.

Squeglia, L.M.; Jacobus, J.; and Tapert, S.F. The influence of substance use on adolescent brain development. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience 40(1):31–38, 2009.

Squeglia, L.M.; Jacobus, J.; and Tapert, S.F. The effect of alcohol use on human adolescent brain structures and systems. Handbook of Clinical Neurology 125:501–510, 2014b.

Storholm, E.D.; Ewing, B.A.; Holliday, S.B.; Stein, B.D.; Meredith, L.S.; Shadel, W.G.; and D’Amico, E.J. Using marijuana, drinking alcohol or a combination of both: The association of marijuana, alcohol and sexual risk behaviour among adolescents. Sexual Health 15(3):254–260, 2018.

Stueve, A., and O’Donnell, L.N. Early alcohol initiation and subsequent sexual and alcohol risk behaviors among urban youths. American Journal of Public Health 95(5):887–889, 2005.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Overview of Findings from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Office of Applied Studies, NHSDA Series H-21, DHHS Publication No. SMA 03-3774. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA, 2003.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Comparing and Evaluating Youth Substance Use Estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Other Surveys. HHS Publication No. SMA 12-4727, Methodology Series M-9. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA, 2012.

Sudman, S. Examining substance abuse data collection methodologies. Journal of Drug Issues 31(3):695–716, 2001.

Sullivan, E.V.; Brumback, T.; Tapert, S.F.; Brown, S.A.; Baker, F.C.; Colrain, I.M.; Prouty, D.; De Bellis, M.D.; Clark, D.B.; Nagel, B.J.; Pohl, K.M.; and Pfefferbaum, A. Disturbed cerebellar growth trajectories in adolescents who initiate alcohol drinking. Biological Psychiatry 87(7):632–644, 2020.

Swahn, M.H.; Bossarte, R.M.; Palmier, J.B.; and Yao, H. Co-occurring physical fighting and suicide attempts among U.S. high school students: Examining patterns of early alcohol use initiation and current binge drinking. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 14(4):341–346, 2013.

Swahn, M.H.; Bossarte, R.M.; and Sullivent, E.E., 3rd. Age of alcohol use initiation, suicidal behavior, and peer and dating violence victimization and perpetration among high-risk, seventh-grade adolescents. Pediatrics 121(2): 297–305, 2008.

Swahn, M.H.; Simon, T.R.; Hammig, B.J.; and Guerrero, J.L. Alcohol-consumption behaviors and risk for physical fighting and injuries among adolescent drinkers. Addictive Behavior 29(5):959–963, 2004.

Taffe, M.A.; Kotzebue, R.W.; Crean, R.D.; Crawford, E.F.; Edwards, S.; and Mandyam, C.D. Long-lasting reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis by alcohol consumption in adolescent nonhuman primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107(24):11104–11109, 2010.

Terry-McElrath, Y.M.; O’Malley, P.M.; and Johnston, L.D. Alcohol and marijuana use patterns associated with unsafe driving among U.S. high school seniors: High use frequency, concurrent use, and simultaneous use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 75(3):378–389, 2014.

Thompson, N.J.; McGee, R.E.; and Mays, D. Race, ethnicity, substance use, and unwanted sexual intercourse among adolescent females in the United States. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 13(3):283–288, 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020—Substance Abuse. Washington, DC: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.-a. Available at: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/substance-abuse/objectives. Accessed February 8, 2021.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2030—Drug and Alcohol Use. Washington, DC: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.-b. Available at: https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/drug-and-alcohol-use. Accessed February 8, 2021.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking 2018. Washington, DC: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.

Vaca, F.E.; Li, K.; Luk, J.W.; Hingson, R.W.; Haynie, D.L.; and Simons-Morton, B.G. Longitudinal associations of 12th-grade binge drinking with risky driving and high-risk drinking. Pediatrics 145(2):e20184095, 2020.

Vetreno, R.P.; Yaxley, R.; Paniagua, B.; and Crews, F.T. Diffusion tensor imaging reveals adolescent binge ethanol-induced brain structural integrity alterations in adult rats that correlate with behavioral dysfunction. Addiction Biology 21(4):939–953, 2016.

Warner, L.A., and White, H.R. Longitudinal effects of age at onset and first drinking situations on problem drinking. Substance Use and Misuse 38(14):1983–2016, 2003.

Waterman, E.A.; Lee, K.D.M.; and Edwards, K.M. Longitudinal associations of binge drinking with interpersonal violence among adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 48(7):1342–1352, 2019.

Wells, J.E.; Horwood, L.J.; and Fergusson, D.M. Drinking patterns in mid-adolescence and psychosocial outcomes in late adolescence and early adulthood. Addiction 99:1529–1541, 2004.

Welch, K.A.; Carson, A.; and Lawrie, S.M. Brain structure in adolescents and young adults with alcohol problems: Systematic review of imaging studies. Alcohol and Alcoholism 48(4):433–444, 2013.

Whelan, R.; Conrod, P.J.; Poline, J.B.; Lourdusamy, A.; Banaschewski, T.; Barker, G.J.; Bellgrove, M.A.; Büchel, C.; Byrne, M.; Cummins, T.D.R.; Fauth-Bühler, M.; Flor, H.; Gallinat, J.; Heinz, A.; Ittermann, B.; Mann, K.; Martinot, J.L.; Lalor, E.C.; Lathrop, M.; Loth, E.; Nees, F.; Paus, T.; Rietschel, M.; Smolka, M.N.; Spanagel, R.; Stephens, D.N.; Struve, M.; Thyreau, B.; Vollstaedt-Klein, S.; Robbins, T.W.; Schumann, G.; Garavan, H.; and the IMAGEN Consortium. Adolescent impulsivity phenotypes characterized by distinct brain networks. Nature Neuroscience 15(6):920–925, 2012.

White, A., and Hingson, R. The burden of alcohol use: Excessive alcohol consumption and related consequences among college students. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 35(2):201–218, 2013.

White, A.M., and Swartzwelder, H.S. Age-related effects of alcohol on memory and memory-related brain function in adolescents and adults. Recent Developments in Alcoholism 17:161–176, 2005.

White, A.M.; Hingson, R.W.; Pan, I.J.; and Yi, H.Y. Hospitalizations for alcohol and drug overdoses in young adults ages 18–24 in the United States, 1999–2008: Results from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 72(5):774–786, 2011.

York, J.L.; Welte, J.; Hirsch, J.; Hoffman, J.H.; and Barnes, G. Association of age at first drink with current alcohol drinking variables in a national general population sample. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 28(9):1379–1387, 2004.

Young, S.Y.N.; Hansen, C.J.; Gibson, R.L.; and Ryan, M.A.K. Risky alcohol use, age at onset of drinking, and adverse childhood experiences in young men entering the US Marine Corps. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160:1207–1214, 2006.

Zakrajsek, J.S., and Shope, J.T. Longitudinal examination of underage drinking and subsequent drinking and risky driving. Journal of Safety Research 27:443–451, 2006.

Zhao, Q.; Sullivan, E.V.; Honnorat, N.; Adeli, E.; Podhajsky, S.; De Bellis, M.D.; Voyvodic, J.; Nooner, K.B.; Baker, F.C.; Colrain, I.M.; Tapert, S.F.; Brown, S.A.; Thompson, W.K.; Nagel, B.J.; Clark, D.B.; Pfefferbaum, A.; and Pohl, K.M. Association of heavy drinking with deviant fiber tract development in frontal brain systems in adolescents. JAMA Psychiatry, 2020 (Epub ahead of print doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.4064).

List of Figures

Figure 1-1. Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 1-2. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex and age group, 1991–2019

Figure 1-3. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019

Figure 1-4. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by school enrollment status, 1991–2019

Figure 1-5. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 2019

Figure 1-6. YRBS: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, 2019

Figure 2-1. NSDUH and YRBS: Prevalence of initiating drinking at age 12 or younger, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 2-2. NSDUH: Median age at first use of alcohol among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 2-3. NSDUH: Median age at first use of alcohol among 12- to 20-year-olds, by school enrollment status, 1991–2019

Figure 3-1. NSDUH: Mean frequency of drinking in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 3-2. NSDUH: Mean frequency of drinking in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 2017–2019 (based on 3-year averages)

Figure 4-1. NSDUH: Mean quantity on drinking days in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 4-2. NSDUH: Mean quantity on drinking days in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 2017–2019 (based on 3-year averages)

Figure 5-1. NSDUH: Average total number of drinks in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 5-2. NSDUH: Average total number of drinks in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 2017–2019 (based on 3-year averages)

Figure 6-1. Prevalence of binge drinking, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 6-2. NSDUH: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex and age group, 1991–2019

Figure 6-3. NSDUH: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days among 12- to 20-year-olds, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 2019

Figure 6-4. YRBS: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, 2019

Figure 6-5. NSDUH: Mean number of binge drinking days in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 6-6. NSDUH: Mean number of binge drinking days in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by school enrollment status, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 6-7. NSDUH: Frequency of binge drinking in the past 30 days among current drinkers ages 12–20, by category (0 days, 1–2 days, 3–4 days, 5+ days), sex, and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Figure 6-8. MTF: Prevalence of binge drinking (5+ drinks in a row) and extreme binge (high-intensity) drinking (10+ and 15+ drinks in a row) in the past 2 weeks among 12th graders, 2005–2019.

Figure 7. MTF: Prevalence of having been drunk or very high from drinking alcoholic beverages in the past 30 days among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 8-1a. MTF: Percent distribution of disapproval toward taking 1 or 2 drinks nearly every day among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 8-1b. MTF: Percent distribution of disapproval toward having 5 or more drinks once or twice each weekend among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 8-2a. MTF: Percent distribution of perceived risk of harm by having 1 or 2 drinks nearly every day among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 8-2b. MTF: Percent distribution of perceived risk of harm by having 5 or more drinks once or twice each weekend among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 8-2c. NSDUH: Percent distribution of perceived risk of harm by having 5 or more drinks once or twice a week among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 9-1a. NSDUH: Prevalence of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or in combination of illegal drugs in the past 12 months among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1995–2019

Figure 9-1b. YRBS: Prevalence of driving after drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019

Figure 9-1c. YRBS: Prevalence of riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking in the past 30 days, by sex and race/Hispanic origin, 1991–2019

Figure 9-2. YRBS: Prevalence of drinking alcohol or using drugs before last sexual intercourse, by sex, 1991–2019

Figure 9-3. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking and activity with risk of physical danger in the past 12 months among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex, 2000–2019

Figure 9-4. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking and getting into legal trouble in the past 12 months among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex, 2000–2019

Figure 9-5. NSDUH: Prevalence in the past 12 months of problems with family or friends caused by drinking among 12- to 20-year-olds, by sex, 2000–2019


List of Tables

Table 1-1. NSDUH: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among 12- to 20-year-olds, United States, 1991–2019

Table 1-2. MTF: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, United States, 1991–2019

Table 1-3. YRBS: Prevalence of drinking in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, United States, 1991–2019

Table 2-1. NSDUH: Median age at first use of alcohol, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among ever drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Table 2-2. NSDUH: Prevalence of initiating drinking at age 12 or younger, by sex, among ever drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019

Table 2-3. YRBS: Prevalence of initiating drinking at age 12 or younger, by sex, among ever drinkers, United States, 1991–2019

Table 3. NSDUH: Mean frequency of drinking in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among current drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Table 4. NSDUH: Mean quantity of drinking on drinking days in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among current drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Table 5. NSDUH: Average total number of drinks in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among current drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Table 6-1. NSDUH: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among 12- to 20-year-olds, United States, 1991–2019

Table 6-2. MTF: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 2 weeks, by grade and sex, United States, 1991–2019

Table 6-3. YRBS: Prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, United States, 1991–2019

Table 6-4. NSDUH: Mean number of binge drinking days in the past 30 days, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among current drinkers ages 12–20, United States, 1991–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)

Table 7. MTF: Prevalence of having been drunk or very high from drinking alcoholic beverages in the past 30 days, by grade and sex, United States, 1991–2019

Table 8. NSDUH: Prevalence of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or in combination of illegal drugs in the past 12 months, by age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin, among 12- to 20-year-olds, United States, 1995–2019 (based on 3-year moving averages)


Appendix

Appendix A. Differences Among Survey Data Sources

 

Top of the page