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> Alcohol > Tips for Parents

Tips for Parents

Underage Drinking: What Parents Need To Know
by Kristin Blank

Data from SAMHSA’s recent report on underage drinking offer parents, teachers, and other concerned adults information on where drinking occurs and how young people obtain alcohol.

The 110-page report, Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, also includes statistics on prevalence, trends, and sociodemographic and geographic differences. The findings are from SAMHSA’s 2002 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

More than 5,000 people under age 21 die as a result of drinking alcohol every year in the United States, according to findings cited in the report.

Where Young People Drink
Overall, a majority of underage drinkers in 2006 reported that when they last used alcohol they were either in someone else’s home (53.4 percent) or their own home (30.3 percent).

The next most popular drinking locations for this age group were at a restaurant, bar, or club (9.4 percent); in a car or vehicle (5.5 percent); or at a park, on a beach, or in a parking lot (4.8 percent).

Underage drinkers whose last drinking occasion was at someone else’s home consumed an average of 4.9 drinks, while those whose last drinking occasion was at their own homes consumed an average of 4.0 drinks.

How Youth Obtain Alcohol
Among all underage current drinkers, 31.0 percent paid for the alcohol the last time they drank, including 9.3 percent who purchased the alcohol themselves and 21.6 percent who gave money to someone else to purchase it. The remaining 69.0 percent of underage drinkers did not pay for the alcohol on their last drinking occasion.

The most common sources of alcohol among underage current drinkers vary substantially by age group. (See the chart below for details.)

Common Sources: Age 12-14 Years Old


Common Sources: Age 15-17 Years Old


Common Sources: Age 18-20 Years Old


The findings from this SAMHSA study are being incorporated into the Underage Drinking Prevention campaign, an ongoing public outreach effort by the Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA, and the Ad Council encouraging parents to speak with their children early and often about the negative effects of underage drinking.

The campaign provides parents with valuable information about the problem of underage drinking as well as tips for how to talk to their children about it. Further information about the campaign can be obtained at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.


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