A recent report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that underage youth is less tempted by drinking or binge drinking. Researchers found that the number of young people who used to drink dropped dramatically between 2002 and 2013.
To be more specific, the proportion of the young population aged between 12 and 20 fell from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent eleven years later. Additionally, the number of underage binge drinkers, or people that drink more than five drinks during a single occasion, dropped from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent.
The study involved more than 30,000 young people aged 12 to 20 from all U.S. states. According to the study’s results there are currently 8.7 million underage alcoholics in the U.S. alone, among whom nearly 5.5 million are binge drinking.
But despite the good news alcohol is still the youth’s preferred abuse substance. About 13.5 percent of study participants said they used illicit drugs, while 17 percent said they were smokers.
The study’s findings confirm past research on underage drinking and provide precious help to federal authorities in promoting public health campaigns among young people.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had deemed underage drinking a public health issue. CDC researchers cautioned teenagers that drinking can curb their brain development, and can fuel anti-social behavior such as violence outbursts and reckless driving.
According to official statistics, underage drinking is the cause of 4,300 deaths per year and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations or E.R. visits, the CDC reports.
Both federal and local authorities have advised parents on various occasions to spend more time with their children to explain the health consequences of drinking and binge drinking at an early age.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration even released an app called “Talk. They Hear You,” to prepare parents in having a talk with their children.
Frances Harding, the head of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention disclosed that the public awareness campaigns on binge drinking were designed to change social norms.
“Have norms been changed? Absolutely,”
Dr. Harding added.
But amid U.S. adult population, binge drinking rates remained unchanged. According to official statistics, the majority of deaths caused by alcohol were recorded in Caucasian males ages 35 to 65, rather than in underage population.
Additionally, a separate federal study on 67,000 Americans showed that more than 50 percent of U.S. residents are active drinkers, while 23 percent admitted that they had binge drinking problems. That accounts for about 60 million people compared to the U.S. population.
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