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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

Alcohol Use

Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used during adolescence. Its use is associated with motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths; problems in school and in the workplace; and fighting, crime, and other serious consequences.98 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.

Indicator BEH2: 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 grade, 1980–2016
Indicator BEH2: 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 grade, 1980–2016

NOTE: Data for 10th-graders for 2008 are not included because estimates are considered to be unreliable due to sampling error. See http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/09data.html#2009data-drugs.

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

  • In 2016, the percentages of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported binge drinking continued a downward trend and were the lowest since the survey began in 1980.
  • Binge drinking declined from the most recent peaks of 13 percent in 1996 to 3 percent in 2016 for 8th-grade students, 24 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2016 for 10th-grade students, and 32 percent in 1998 to 16 percent in 2016 for 12th-grade students.
  • In 2016, about 3 percent of male and 4 percent of female 8th-grade students reported binge drinking; among 10th-grade students, the proportion was 10 percent for both male and female students. Seventeen percent of 12th-grade male students reported binge drinking, compared with 14 percent of 12th-grade female students.
  • For 12th-grade students in 2016, the percentages of White, non-Hispanic and Hispanic students (19 percent and 17 percent, respectively) who reported binge drinking were both more than double the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic students who reported binge drinking (8 percent). This relationship was not observed among 8th-graders; but by 10th grade it is nearly as high as among those in 12th grade with 11.6 percent, 5.8 percent and 11.4 percent of White, non-Hispanic; Black, non-Hispanic; and Hispanic 10th-grade students respectively, reporting binge alcohol use in 2016.

table icon BEH2 HTML Table

98 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 http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh283/toc28-3.htm