Children's Health

published : 2023-09-30

States with Highest Rates of Teen Alcohol Use Revealed in New Study

Addiction expert urges parents to discourage underage drinking to prevent 'lifelong problems'

A photo of teenagers socializing in a park, discouraging underage drinking and promoting positive interactions (Taken with Nikon D850).

A new study conducted by Addiction Treatment Magazine has unveiled the states in the U.S. with the highest and lowest prevalence of underage drinking.

Researchers analyzed data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) based on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The study focused on young people aged 12 to 20 who had consumed alcohol in the last month and had engaged in binge-drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks in one sitting.

Vermont emerged as the state with the highest prevalence of underage drinkers, with nearly 25% of minors having consumed alcohol and over 14% engaging in binge-drinking.

Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts also showed high rates of underage drinking, with percentages ranging from 20.4% to 22% consuming alcohol monthly.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi had the lowest prevalence of underage drinking, with only 9.7% of underage individuals consuming alcohol, and a binge-drinking rate of just 5.4%.

A close-up shot of a parent talking to their teenager about the risks and consequences of underage drinking, emphasizing the importance of open communication (Taken with Canon EOS R).

Utah and North Carolina followed as the second and third-lowest states for underage drinking.

Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas rounded out the lower 10 states.

According to experts, Vermont's high rates may be attributed to its numerous colleges and universities and its rural nature.

Dr. Chris Tuell, a clinical director of addiction services, emphasized the risks associated with underage drinking and the importance of parental guidance in preventing lifelong problems.

This study serves as a reminder that although progress has been made, underage drinking remains a concern that requires ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of young people.

The research consistently shows that early alcohol use before the age of 15 significantly increases the risk of addiction and alcoholism later in life.

An image of a group of diverse young people engaging in a fun and alcohol-free activity, highlighting alternative ways to have fun without alcohol (Taken with Sony Alpha A7III).

Possible factors contributing to higher rates of underage drinking in some states include packaging geared toward youth, such as flavored drinks, and the association of alcohol with social events and sports.

Experts stress that parents play a vital role in preventing underage drinking and can serve as a strong protective factor against it.

By discouraging early alcohol use and maintaining open lines of communication, parents can help reduce the risks associated with underage drinking.

The findings of this study provide valuable insights into the prevalence of underage drinking across the country and highlight the need for continued efforts to address this issue.