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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2020

Alcohol Use

Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used by adolescents. Its use is associated with motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths; problems in school and the workplace; and fighting, crime, and other serious consequences.44 Early onset of binge drinking, defined here as five or more alcoholic beverages in a row or during a single occasion in the previous 2 weeks, may be especially problematic, potentially increasing the likelihood of these negative outcomes.45

Figure 16: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks by metropolitan status, 2019
Figure 16: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks by metropolitan status, 2019

NOTE: Binge drinking is defined as having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifies some counties as within a metropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are considered nonmetropolitan. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas.

SOURCE: National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future Survey.

  • In 2019, 4% of 8th-, 9% of 10th-, and 14% of 12th-grade students reported binge drinking.
  • Binge drinking was reported by 18% of 12th-grade students living in nonmetropolitan areas compared with 14% of 12th-grade students living in metropolitan areas.
  • Among 10th-grade students, there was no significant difference in reported binge drinking, with 10% of those living in nonmetropolitan areas and 8% of those living in metropolitan areas reporting use.
  • Likewise, binge drinking among 8th-grade students did not differ by geographic area, with 5% of those living in nonmetropolitan areas and 4% of those living in metropolitan areas reporting use.

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44 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. (2016). Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General's report on alcohol, drugs, and health. Retrieved from https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-generals-report.pdf

45 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004/2005). Alcohol and development in youth—A multidisciplinary overview. Alcohol Research and Health, 28(3), 107–176. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh283/toc28-3.htm