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Alcohol Use Among Adolescents

NCJ Number
Alcohol Health and Research World Volume: 22 Issue: 2 Dated: 1998 Pages: 85-95
Patrick M. O'Malley Ph.D.; Lloyd D. Johnston Ph.D.; Jerald G. Bachman Ph.D.
Date Published
11 pages
This article describes the extent and nature of alcohol use among American adolescents; in addition, the article provides information on trends in, self-reported reasons for, and consequences of adolescent alcohol use.
The article draws on information from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). These studies have found that the majority of adolescents under the age of 18 have consumed alcohol, although the minimum legal drinking age is 21. Drinking rates may even have increased in recent years in some age groups. No substantial differences exist among various sociodemographic subgroups with respect to drinking rates, although alcohol consumption generally is lowest among African-Americans and highest among whites. Moreover, alcohol consumption increases sharply throughout adolescence. Various attitudinal and behavioral factors, such as religious involvement, truancy, and average grade level, also influence adolescents' drinking behaviors. Almost two-thirds of 12th graders who report consuming alcohol experience at least one alcohol-related problem. Most adolescents drink to experience the pleasurable effects of alcohol, such as having a good time with friends. 5 tables, 4 figures, and 15 references