Survey Shows Over 25% of Minors Drink Alcohol

According to a report released last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over a quarter of the U.S. population who is too young to legally consume alcohol, is drinking anyway.

There has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, particularly among minors 17 and younger, but the rates of underage drinking are still very high.

Underage DrinkingThe latest research, compiled from 2008 through 2010, shows the 26.6 percent of minors ages 12-20 are drinking alcohol. It also showed that 8.7 percent of these teens are purchasing the alcohol they consume.

All 50 states in the U.S. as well as the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages by anyone under 21 years of age.

The report was separated by state and showed that Utah has the nation’s lowest rate of underage drinking, with 14.3 percent of Utah’s minors stating they drank alcohol in the previous month.  That’s 6 percent behind the next closest state – Tennessee.  Other states with low consumption rates include South Carolina, Alabama and Indiana.

Meanwhile, Vermont had the highest rate of underage drinking with 37% of minors in the state reporting alcohol consumption in the last month.  Other states with high consumption include New Hampshire, North Dakota, Montana and Rhode Island.

New Mexico had the lowest incidence of minors purchasing their own alcohol at 2.5 percent.  Other states with low incidents of purchase include Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Tennessee.

New York had the highest purchase rates at 15 percent, followed by Louisiana, North Carolina, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.

SAMHSA is a public health agency that is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.