Underage binge alcohol use rates vary extensively across regions in the U.S.

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A new report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that underage binge alcohol use rates vary extensively throughout the United States.  The report shows that the levels of binge drinking in sub-state regions ranged from a low of 9.2 percent in Shelby County, Tennessee, to a high of 46.3 percent in the District of Columbia’s Ward 2 (located in the west-central section of the city).

Binge drinking in this study is defined as consuming five or more drinks at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other on at least one day in the past 30 days.

Nationally, 15.9 percent of all persons aged 12 to 20 were binge alcohol users in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.  In terms of regions, the SAMHSA report found that of the 16 sub-state regions with the highest rates of underage binge alcohol use, five were in the Northeast, five were in the South, five were in the Midwest, and one was in the West.

Alcohol use is one of the most serious public health issues for young people in the United States, creating various negative consequences for adolescents, their families, and the nation as a whole.

“While we continue to make great strides in the prevention of underage drinking, binge drinking remains a widespread concern throughout the nation and dangerously impacts the immediate and developmental health of millions of adolescents and young adults,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. “This report provides communities across the country with a clearer understanding regarding the scope and nature of the underage drinking problems they need to address and can help raise public awareness about the importance of promoting prevention and recovery among our children and youth.”

SAMHSA’s Talk. They Hear You underage drinking prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early -- as early as nine years old -- about the dangers of alcohol.  Resources for parents are available at http://beta.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/parent-resources

SAMHSA’s, Underage Binge Alcohol Use Varies within and across States, report is available at: http://samhsa.gov/data/2K14/NSDUH199/sr199-underage-binge-drinking-2014.htm

The report is based on the findings of SAMHSA’s 2010 to 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health -- with data collected from over 94,000 persons aged 12 to 20 over the period 2010 through 2012 throughout the country.

For more information about SAMHSA, please visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

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