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SAMHSA News - May/June 2008, Volume 16, Number 3

Many Underage Drinkers Get Alcohol from Adults

More than 40 percent of the Nation’s estimated 10.8 million underage current drinkers (persons ages 12 to 20 who drank in the past 30 days) were provided free alcohol by adults 21 or older, according to a SAMHSA report, Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

The study also indicates that 1 in 16 underage drinkers (6.4 percent or 650,000) was given alcoholic beverages by their parents in the past month.

The report is based on a nationwide study, which for the first time asked detailed questions about the social context and location of underage drinking—a problem responsible for the deaths of more than 5,000 people under age 21 every year. The survey also asked current drinkers ages 12 to 20 the source of the alcohol they last consumed, how many drinks they had on that occasion, and what other drugs, if any, they used in combination with alcohol in the past month.

The findings from this study are being incorporated into the Underage Drinking Prevention campaign, an ongoing public outreach effort by the Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA, and the Ad Council, encouraging parents to speak with their children early and often about the negative effects of underage drinking.

The campaign provides parents with valuable information about the problem of underage drinking as well as tips for how to talk to their children about it. Further information about the campaign can be obtained at

This report is based on combined data from the 2002 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The full report is available on the SAMHSA Web site at

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