Alcohol remains the most popular substance being consumed and abused by underage, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The latest report from the agency showed a significant decline in the level of alcohol consumption and binge drinking among 12 to 20 years old youth from 2002 to 2013.
The level of alcohol consumption among 12 to 20 years old youth dropped from 28.8% in 2002 to 22.7% in 2012, according to SAMHA. The agency also found that the binge drinking fell from 19.3% to 14.2% during the same period.
Binge drinking happens when a person consumes five or more drinks on a particular occasion or time, at least one day over the past 30 days.
According to SAMHSA, alcohol is still the preferred substance of abuse among young people despite the reduction. The agency noted that 22.7% of underage youth consume alcohol, 16.9% use tobacco and 13.6% use illegal drugs.
At present, there are 8.7 million underage alcohol drinkers and 5.4 million underage binge drinkers.
Alcohol drinking poses serious risk to the health and future of the youth
“Alcohol drinking “poses a serious risk not only to their health and their future, but to the safety and well-being of others. We must do everything we can to prevent underage drinking and get treatment for young people who need it,” said Frances M. Harding, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) at SAMHSA.
Harding added that parents can make a difference if they would communicate their expectations clearly to their young children and supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking.
Preventing alcohol underage drinking
According to SAMHSA, there is an increased focus on preventing underage youth from alcohol drinking over the past decade through local and national policy, community coalitions, and law enforcement initiatives.
The SAMHSA launched the national media campaign “Talk. They Hear You.” It encourages parents and caregivers to talk to children early about the harmful effect of drinking alcohol. The free mobile app features interactive simulation that uses avatars to help parents practice bringing up the topic of alcohol, learn to ask questions, and get ideas to keep the conversations going with their children.
“Our target is to change social norms. Have norms been changed? Absolutely,” said Harding.
Health experts warn that consuming alcohol at a young age could slow brain development, and it could also lead to car crashes, drowning and violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that six people in the United States are dying everyday from alcohol poisoning.