Report: Teen Drinking Rates Hit Historic Lows

Teen drinking is trending downward.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), teen drinking and binge drinking rates are at their lowest levels since the study’s inception in 1975. These stats were published this week by the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey, jointly released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan.

The Monitoring the Future Survey has tracked substance abuse among American high school students since 1975. In 2015, the study surveyed over 40,000 students from 400 public and private schools throughout the United States. Among the 2015 survey highlights:

  • Alcohol use continues its gradual downward trend among teens, with significant decreases seen in the past five years in nearly all measures.
  • Binge drinking (described as having five or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks) is at 17.2 percent among high-school seniors, down from 19.4 percent last year and down from peak rates in 1998 of 31.5 percent.

Professor Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator, noted that decreases in availability may be a contributing factor. “In recent years, there has been a fair decline in all three grades in the proportion saying that alcohol is easy for them to get, with the steepest decline among the youngest teens,” said Johnston.  “This suggests that state, community and parental efforts have been successful in reducing underage access to alcohol.”

DISCUS President Peter Cressy, a former college president stated, “Key to this success is educating parents and other adults about the seriousness of providing alcohol to teens. While there is more work to do, these continued declines in teen drinking underscore the effectiveness of public-private partnerships.”

Cressy said that the spirits industry has been a part of this progress through continued support of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and the Federal Trade Commission’s “We Don’t Serve Teens” program, which provides parents with tools to talk to their children about alcohol.

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