Underage Binge Drinking on Decline: Alcohol Statistics, Health Effects & What You Need to Know

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Jun 12, 2015 06:00 AM EDT

Underage binge drinking is on the decline even though alcohol remains to be widely consumed among U.S. teenagers, a new study has found.

The study was from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The findings show that underage drinking dropped from 28.2 percent to 22.7 percent in teens aged 12 to 20 from 2002 to 2013. Binge drinking, having more than five drinks on the same night or occasion, dropped from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent from 2002 to 2013. Although drinking rates are on the decline, alcohol remains to be the top vice among teenagers, followed by tobacco at 16.9 percent and illicit drugs at 13.6 percent.

The survey analyzed data from the National Survey for Drug Use and Health, which assessed the drinking habits of teenagers 12 to 20 years old.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), youth who participate in underage  drinking will lead to consequences such as: physical and sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, increased drunk-driving risk, unwanted pregnancies, memory problems and failing grades in school to name a few.  

Binge drinking has been linked to major diseases, such as neurological damage, high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, liver disease and diabetes.

Alcohol is also a contributing factor in 4,300 deaths in underage drinking every year, the Washington Post reports.

"While we're always very happy about these declines, we can't lose sight of the fact that we have approximately 9 million underage drinkers in the country," Rich Lucey, special assistant to the director at SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse, told USA Today.

Numerous local and national organizations have rallied in informing the youth about the dangers of binge drinking and drunk driving. SAMHSA even launched a media campaign for preventing underage drinking, and recently an app called "Talk. They Hear You."

The mobile app helps parents talk about the dangers of alcohol with their children.

"When parents communicate clear expectations and they are supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking, we can make a difference," said Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, as per CBS News.

"However, there are still 8.7 million current underage drinkers and 5.4 million current underage binge drinkers. This poses a serious risk not only to their health and to 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," Harding added.

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