Underage Drinkers Get Their Alcohol From Adults, US Survey

Friday, June 27, 2008

A new nationwide survey on underage drinking in the US estimates that 40 per cent of underage drinkers get free alcohol from adults over the age of 21, including more than 5 per cent who receive it from parents and guardians.

The report, dated June 2008 and produced by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is available to download from the SAMHSA website.

Underage drinking is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths a year of Americans under the age of 21, said the SAMHSA.

There are about 11 million underage drinkers in the US, according to the study, which surveyed about 23,000 American teenagers and young adults from 2002 to 2006. The researchers defined underage current drinkers as persons aged from 12 to 20 who had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.

The nationwide survey was the first to ask detailed questions about underage drinking behaviour and social situations in which young people drink alcohol.

It found that 40 per cent of underage drinkers were given alcohol by adults over the age of 21 in the previous month, and that 650,000, or 6.4 per cent, of underage drinkers were given the alcohol by their parents.

The study also found that:

* 53.9 per cent of all people aged 12 to 20 engaged in underage drinking in their lifetime, ranging from 11.0 per cent of 12 year olds to 85.5 per cent of 20 year olds.

* An average of 3.5 million people aged 12 to 20 each year (about 10 per cent of the US population) meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence.

* About 1 in 5 in this age group, or around 7 million, have engaged in binge drinking where they had five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the previous 30 days.

* Over 80 per cent of underage drinkers said they were with two or more other people when they last had an alcoholic drink, during which time they drank an average of 4.9 drinks, compared with 2.9 drinks when they on their own or 3.1 when with only one other person.

* Over half of underage drinkers were at someone else's home when they last had a drink of alcohol.

* Binge drinking occurs significantly more often among youngsters who live with a parent who engaged in binge drinking in the past year.

Acting Surgeon General Dr Steven K. Galson, a rear admiral in the US Public Health Service said:

"In far too many instances parents directly enable their children's underage drinking - in essence encouraging them to risk their health and wellbeing."

"Proper parental guidance alone may not be the complete solution to this devastating public health problem - but it is a critical part," he added.

SAMHSA Administrator Dr Terry Cline said:

"This report provides unprecedented insight into the social context of this public health problem and shows that it cuts across many different parts of our community."

"Its findings strongly indicate that parents and other adults can play an important role in helping influence -- for better or for worse -- young people's behavior with regard to underage drinking."

Research has shown that one of the reasons people who start drinking at an early age tend to become problem drinkers later in life is they use alcohol to relieve stress.

A survey of 27,000 people by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in the US, and published in the January 2007 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that people who reported the most stressful incidents in their lives also drank the most, and those who started to drink alcohol in their teens, and reported at least six "stressors" (pressures that made them feel stressed rather than challenged) drank five times more alcohol than those who started drinking when they were 18 or older.

"Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health."
Michael R. Pemberton, James D. Colliver, Tania M. Robbins, Joseph C. Gfroerer.
US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office of Applied Studies.
DHHS Publication No. SMA 08-4333, Analytic Series A-30, June 2008.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article on TEEN drinking & receiving from parents/adults !!!
AND yes, I agree, start young, then end up destroying your life !
The biggest problem is that it's a LEGAL SUBSTANCE too !
Let me now if you would like my 2 page story, of how my late husband & I allowed alcohol to destroy our health completely !
Many thanks.
Sheila Joyce Gibbs
ph. no. 250-995-1643