Alcohol is one of the most common substances abused by teenagers. Sometimes it only leaves them with a head ache after a night of partying, other times it makes them sick or causes them to do impulsive, unsafe things such as getting at wheel drunk, endangering not only their own life, but the lives of others as well.
But a recent paper has good news. Conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between the years of 2002 and 2013, the study has found that both underage drinking and underage binge drinking are dropping significantly in numbers.
The results of the 11 year study show that underage drinking dropped from a percentage of 28.2 (28.2%) in 2002 to a percentage of 22.7 (22.7%) in 2013 among teens with the age between 12 and 20.
Underage binge drinking dropped from a percentage of 19.3 (19.3%) in 2002 to a percentage of 14.2 (14.2%) in 2013 among the same age group. Binge drinking is defined by having five (5) or more drinks on the same time or during the sa me event.
These results were of no surprise to the experts as other surveys in the past few years have suggest that underage drinking is on decline, a movement aided by multiple social campaigns conducted by local and federal governments who are fighting to reduce underage drinking.
The researchers stress that even thought alcohol consumption is loosing popularity points among teens, these types of beverages still remain their favorite vice generally speaking. The second most enjoyed is tobacco, with 16.9 percent (16.0%) of teen indulging in it, followed by illicit drugs, with 13.6 percent (13.6%) of teen indulging.
Rich Lucey, special assistant to the director at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse, gave a statement to USA Today saying that “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”.
For their study, the team looked at data collected by the National Survey for Drug Use and Health and analyzed the drinking habits of more than 30.000 underage teens. Statistically speaking, there are roughly 8.7 million under age drinker living in the United States, with 5.4 million of them being heavy weight binge drinkers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that underage drinking may lead to nefarious consequences that affect both the drinkers and the people around them – alcohol poisoning, physical and sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, increased risk of drunk-driving, memory problems or failing grades in school.
Binge drinking is even more dangerous. Scientists have connected it to serious health problems such as neurological damage, diabetes, high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases and liver disease.
What’s even more unnerving, a report published by the Washing Post has revealed that underage alcohol consumption is responsible for 4.300 deaths among teens every year.
In order to prevent future tragedies from happening, Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, advises parents to talk with their children and communicate clear expectations, as changing social norms is the key to a safer and healthier future.
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