Underage Drinking & the Law

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Underage drinking rates still falling says ‘Monitoring the Future’

Falling-GraphHigh school students’ alcohol use has been falling for over 30 years across all measures and all ages, according to the latest data released on Tuesday, December 17, at midnight EST by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. The 2013 Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students’ use of and attitudes towards alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs and tobacco. We will provide an in-depth analysis of the latest data shortly but here are the significant results:

  • When asked “Have you drank more than a few drops of alcohol in the past 30 days?,” what researchers call “current usage”, the year-to-year decrease is significant and encouraging, while the 20-year drop has been striking. By grade:
    • 10.2 percent of 8th graders answered “Yes,” compared to 11 percent last year and 24.3 percent 20 years ago.
    • 25.7 percent of 10th graders answered “Yes,” compared to 27.6 percent last year and 38.2 percent 20 years ago.
    • 39.2 percent of 12th graders answered “Yes,” compared to 41.5 percent last year and 48.6 percent 20 years ago.
  • When asked “Have you ever drank more than a few drops of alcohol?,” the highest number ever of high school students answered “No” this year. By grade:
    • 73 percent of 8th graders said “Never” to alcohol in 2013, up from 70.5 percent last year and only 44 percent 20 years ago.
    • 48 percent of 10th graders said “Never” to alcohol, up from 46 percent last year and only 38.4 percent 20 years ago.
    • 32 percent of 12th graders said “Never” to alcohol, up from 30.6 percent last year and only 20 percent 20 years ago.
  • When asked “Have you ever been drunk?,” again the numbers have fallen dramatically. By grade:
    • 87.8 percent of 8th graders said”Never,”, up from 87.2 percent last year and 73.6 percent 20 years ago.
    • 66.5 percent of 10th graders said “Never,”, up from 65.4 percent last year and 52.1 percent 20 years ago.
    • 47.7 percent of 12th graders said “Never,”, up from 45.8 percent last year and 37.5 percent 20 years ago.

Of course, all underage alcohol use is illegal, so any reported drinking means these students are breaking the law. The efficacy of the drinking age is a separate subject deserving of its own discussion but the drop in drinking behavior is encouraging. As we have reported here, all national studies have demonstrated that underage drinking rates have been dropping consistently while attitudes toward underage drinking, especially drinking and driving, have improved greatly.

One comment on “Underage drinking rates still falling says ‘Monitoring the Future’

  1. nina
    December 18, 2013


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