Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 3.3 Binge drinking

04/01/1997

Alcohol use among adolescents is linked to a host of problems including motor vehicle crashes and deaths, difficulties in school and the workplace, fighting, and breaking the law.23 In addition, binge drinking by youth having five or more drinks in a row at some point in the previous two weeks is associated with higher levels of illicit drug use.24

Among 12th grade students, rates of binge drinking fell from a high of 41.2 percent in 1980 to 27.5 percent in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996, rates have edged up modestly to 30.2 percent.25

Differences by Age. Binge drinking increases as students move into the upper grade levels (see Figure SD 3.3). In 1996, 15.6 percent of 8th grade students reported binge drinking, while nearly twice this percentage reported binge drinking in 12th grade. The larger increase in binge drinking appears to occur between the 8th and 10th grade, rather than in the period between the upper grade levels (see Table SD 3.3.A).

Differences by Gender. Male students report higher rates of binge drinking than do female students at all grade levels. The disparity in binge drinking rates between males and females is greater in the upper grades, with nearly 37 percent of males and 23 percent of females in the 12th grade reporting binge drinking in 1995.

Differences by Race. Hispanic youth in the 8th grade are more likely than their white and black peers to engage in binge drinking. By the 12th grade, however, white students report a higher prevalence of binge drinking than do either Hispanic or black students. Black students consistently report the lowest prevalence of binge drinking; for all grades and across both time periods, less than 15 percent of black students report binge drinking (see Table SD 3.3.B).
 

Figure SD 3.3  
Binge Drinking: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Who Reported Having Five or More Drinks in a Row in the Previous Two Weeks: 1975-1996 

SD3_3.GIF

Source: Johnston, L.D., O Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G., National Survey Results on Drug Use from The Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995. Rockville, Maryland: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH Publication No. 97-4139, 1997. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Tables D-27 and D-28. 1996 data from: The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. The rise in drug use among American teens continues in 1996. Press release of December 19, 1996.
 
 

Table SD 3.3A  
Binge Drinking: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Who Reported Having Five or More Drinks in a Row in the Previous Two Weeks, by Gender:  Selected Years, 1975-1996

                       
   
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       
8th Grade
Total
 
 
 
 
12.9
13.4
13.5
14.5
14.5
15.6
  Male
 
 
 
 
14.3
13.9
14.8
16
15.1
 
  Female
 
 
 
 
11.4
12.8
12.3
13
13.9
 
                       
10th Grade
Total
 
 
 
 
22.9
21.1
23
23.6
24
24.8
  Male
 
 
 
 
26.4
23.7
26.5
28.5
26.3
 
  Female
 
 
 
 
19.5
18.6
19.3
18.7
21.5
 
                       
12th Grade
Total
36.8
41.2
36.7
32.2
29.8
27.9
27.5
28.2
29.8
30.2
  Male
49
52.1
45.3
39.1
37.8
35.6
34.6
37
36.9
 
  Female
26.4
30.5
28.2
24.4
21.2
20.3
20.7
20.2
23
 
                       
Source: Johnston, L.D., O Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G., "National Survey Results on Drug Use from The Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995." Rockville, Maryland: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH Publication No. 97-4139, 1997. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Tables D-27 and D-28. 1996 data from: The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. "The rise in drug use among American teens continues in 1996." Press release of December 19, 1996.

 

Table SD 3.3.B 
Binge Drinking: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Graders Who Reported Having Five or More Drinks in a Row in the Previous Two Weeks, Variations by Race/Ethnicity Group: 1992-1993 and 1994-1995

                 
 
1992-1993a
   
1994-1995a
 
 
   
 
 
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade
   
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
White
12.6
23
31.3
  White
13.9
25.4
32.3
Black
10.7
14.8
12.6
  Black
10.8
13.3
14.9
Hispanic
21.4
23.8
27.2
  Hispanic
22
26.8
26.6
                 
Note: aTo derive percentages for each racial subgroup, data for two years have been combined to increase subgroups sample sizes and thus provide more stable estimates.  

Source: Johnston, L.D., O Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G., "National Survey Results on Drug Use from The Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995." Rockville, Maryland: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH Publication No. 97-4139, 1997. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Tables D-27 and D-28.

 

23 National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Trends in Drug Use and Related Factors Among American High School Students and Young Adults, 1976-1986. DHHS Pub. No. (ADM)87-1535. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1987.

24 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Preliminary Estimates From the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Rockville, Maryland: Public Health Service, 1996. 1995 results indicate that among binge drinkers, 18 percent were illicit drug users. In this survey, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past month.

25 These percentages underestimate the rate of binge drinking among all youth, because school age youth who are not in school are somewhat more likely to binge drink than those in school. (Based on unpublished analyses of the National Health Interview Survey 1992 by Child Trends, Inc. and by unpublished prevalence rates of past month alcohol use among youths ages 12-17 by school status, enrolled or not-enrolled, from the 1994-95 National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse).
 
 

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