Banner image for The NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) Report
November 20, 2012

State Estimates of Underage Alcohol Use and Self-Purchase of Alcohol: 2008 to 2010

In Brief
  • Combined 2008 to 2010 data indicate that 26.6 percent of persons aged 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month
  • Rates of underage past month alcohol use were among the lowest in Utah (14.3 percent) and among the highest in Vermont (37.0 percent)
  • Approximately 8.7 percent of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank
  • The rates of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 buying their own alcohol were among the lowest in New Mexico (2.5 percent), Idaho (2.6 percent), and Oregon (2.6 percent), and among the highest in New York (15.0 percent)

Alcohol use constitutes one of the most serious public health issues for young people in the United States, creating negative health, social, and economic consequences for adolescents, their families, communities, and the Nation as a whole.1 Reducing access to alcohol is a critical element in the prevention of underage alcohol consumption and is particularly important to the States, which have had authority for alcohol control since 1933. All 50 States and the District of Columbia currently prohibit possession of alcoholic beverages by persons younger than 21, and most prohibit underage purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages.2 Despite the efforts to limit access, underage drinkers still are able to obtain alcohol, and many are able to purchase alcohol themselves.3 Information about underage alcohol use at the State level can provide States with vital data to inform enforcement, educational, and prevention efforts.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) asks respondents to report on their alcohol use in the past 30 days. Past month alcohol users are asked whether they paid for the last alcoholic beverage that they drank; if they paid for it, they are asked whether they purchased the alcohol beverage themselves or whether they gave someone else the money to buy it for them.

This issue of The NSDUH Report presents State estimates of past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 to 20 and State estimates of self-purchase of alcohol among past month drinkers.4 All findings are annual averages based on combined 2008 to 2010 NSDUH data. This report updates findings from a previously published report which utilized 2006 to 2008 data. State estimates are rank ordered from highest to lowest and divided into quintiles (fifths). States with the highest estimates fall into the top quintile (fifth) and are shown in red; States with the lowest estimates are in the bottom quintile and are shown in blue.5


State Estimates of Underage Past Month Alcohol Use

More than one quarter (26.6 percent) of persons aged 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month (Table 1). Rates of past month alcohol use were among the lowest in Utah (14.3 percent) and among the highest in Vermont (37.0 percent) (Figure 1). Of the 10 States with the highest rates of past month alcohol use, 6 were in the Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Of the 10 States with the lowest rates of past month alcohol use, 7 were in the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia).


Table 1. Past Month Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20 and Self-Purchase of the Last Alcohol Used among Past Month Alcohol Users Aged 12 to 20: Percentages and Confidence Intervals of Percentages, Average of 2008, 2009, and 2010
State Past Month Alcohol Users
among Persons Aged 12 to 20
Past Month Underage Drinkers
Who Themselves Purchased
Last Alcohol They Used
Percentage 95% Confidence
Interval
Percentage 95% Confidence
Interval
Total United States 26.60% (26.10-27.12)   8.75%   (8.23-9.29)  
Alabama 21.96% (18.71-25.59) 10.77%   (7.29-15.64)
Alaska 25.77% (22.48-29.35)   4.64%   (2.52-8.41)  
Arizona 24.79% (21.22-28.76)   5.84%   (3.30-10.13)
Arkansas 22.74% (20.07-25.65)   6.85%   (4.27-10.80)
California 25.23% (23.54-26.99)   7.67%   (5.95-9.82)  
Colorado 32.65% (29.43-36.05)   6.16%   (3.45-10.76)
Connecticut 32.13% (27.44-37.21) 12.67%   (8.51-18.43)
Delaware 31.48% (27.88-35.32)   7.34%   (4.50-11.74)
District of Columbia 27.96% (23.10-33.41) 11.24%   (5.94-20.28)
Florida 26.19% (24.36-28.10)   9.93%   (7.70-12.71)
Georgia 24.10% (20.32-28.33)   9.06%   (5.65-14.22)
Hawaii 25.28% (21.23-29.80)   5.91%   (2.74-12.26)
Idaho 24.83% (21.16-28.90)   2.57%   (1.14-5.68)  
Illinois 28.12% (26.28-30.03)   8.52%   (6.74-10.72)
Indiana 22.52% (20.27-24.95)   7.31%   (4.14-12.57)
Iowa 30.20% (25.33-35.55)   9.84%   (6.73-14.18)
Kansas 27.91% (23.79-32.44)   9.16%   (6.26-13.23)
Kentucky 24.47% (20.38-29.08) 10.53%   (6.79-15.97)
Louisiana 29.48% (26.01-33.21) 13.95% (10.34-18.57)
Maine 25.53% (21.81-29.64)   4.46%   (2.36-8.27)  
Maryland 25.98% (22.68-29.58)   9.44%   (6.37-13.78)
Massachusetts 31.86% (27.58-36.47) 10.07%   (6.85-14.57)
Michigan 26.06% (24.67-27.51)   8.45%   (6.85-10.40)
Minnesota 26.89% (22.42-31.89)   4.93%   (2.61-9.12)  
Mississippi 24.48% (20.84-28.52) 10.88%   (7.87-14.86)
Missouri 24.03% (20.98-27.37) 10.43%   (5.96-17.60)
Montana 34.84% (31.29-38.57)   6.96%   (4.87-9.87)  
Nebraska 24.70% (21.12-28.67)   5.77%   (3.37-9.69)  
Nevada 24.53% (21.20-28.21)   9.43%   (5.54-15.61)
New Hampshire 35.68% (31.65-39.93)   6.15%   (4.06-9.23)  
New Jersey 28.12% (24.07-32.56)   6.98%   (4.41-10.86)
New Mexico 25.52% (22.76-28.48)   2.52%   (0.93-6.63)  
New York 31.63% (29.94-33.37) 15.02% (12.70-17.68)
North Carolina 22.95% (20.08-26.09) 12.94%   (8.78-18.67)
North Dakota 35.35% (32.06-38.79)   4.67%   (2.78-7.74)  
Ohio 28.15% (25.51-30.95)   7.44%   (6.11-9.03)  
Oklahoma 25.31% (22.43-28.42)   8.09%   (4.97-12.90)
Oregon 32.15% (28.16-36.42)   2.57%   (1.38-4.76)  
Pennsylvania 29.11% (26.88-31.45)   6.99% (5.25-9.27)
Rhode Island 33.95% (29.39-38.83) 11.17%   (7.05-17.24)
South Carolina 21.68% (18.03-25.84)   6.72%   (3.71-11.86)
South Dakota 31.51% (27.55-35.75)   6.31%   (4.03-9.74)  
Tennessee 20.50% (17.00-24.50)   3.89%   (2.01-7.37)  
Texas 25.90% (23.95-27.96)   9.52%   (7.68-11.74)
Utah 14.28% (11.65-17.39)   3.23%   (1.13-8.90)  
Vermont 37.03% (31.62-42.79)   7.19%   (5.06-10.12)
Virginia 27.23% (22.51-32.52)   7.05%   (4.03-12.04)
Washington 25.71% (22.56-29.14)   6.12%   (3.63-10.14)
West Virginia 23.23% (20.44-26.28)   8.31%   (5.11-13.23)
Wisconsin 29.39% (25.65-33.42)   9.76%   (6.14-15.18)
Wyoming 29.72% (26.47-33.20)   4.16%   (2.31-7.36)  
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), 2008 to 2010 (revised March 2012).

Figure 1. Percentages of Past Month Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: 2008 to 2010
This is a map of the United States comparing percentages of past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 to 20, by state: 2008 to 2010. Accessible table located below this figure.

Figure 1 Table. Percentages of Past Month Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: 2008 to 2010
State Percentage of Past Month Alcohol Users
among Persons Aged 12 to 20
Utah 14.28%
Tennessee 20.50%
South Carolina 21.68%
Alabama 21.96%
Indiana 22.52%
Arkansas 22.74%
North Carolina 22.95%
West Virginia 23.23%
Missouri 24.03%
Georgia 24.10%
Kentucky 24.47%
Mississippi 24.48%
Nevada 24.53%
Nebraska 24.70%
Arizona 24.79%
Idaho 24.83%
California 25.23%
Hawaii 25.28%
Oklahoma 25.31%
New Mexico 25.52%
Maine 25.53%
Washington 25.71%
Alaska 25.77%
Texas 25.90%
Maryland 25.98%
Michigan 26.06%
Florida 26.19%
Minnesota 26.89%
Virginia 27.23%
Kansas 27.91%
District of Columbia 27.96%
Illinois 28.12%
New Jersey 28.12%
Ohio 28.15%
Pennsylvania 29.11%
Wisconsin 29.39%
Louisiana 29.48%
Wyoming 29.72%
Iowa 30.20%
Delaware 31.48%
South Dakota 31.51%
New York 31.63%
Massachusetts 31.86%
Connecticut 32.13%
Oregon 32.15%
Colorado 32.65%
Rhode Island 33.95%
Montana 34.84%
North Dakota 35.35%
New Hampshire 35.68%
Vermont 37.03%
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), 2008 to 2010 (revised March 2012).


State Estimates of Underage Past Month Drinkers Who Purchased the Last Alcohol They Drank

Approximately 8.7 percent of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank (Table 1). The rates of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 buying their own alcohol were among the lowest in New Mexico (2.5 percent), Idaho (2.6 percent), and Oregon (2.6 percent), and among the highest in New York (15.0 percent) (Figure 2). Six of the States in the top quintile were in the South (Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia). Six of the States in the bottom quintile were in the West (Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming).


Figure 2. Percentages of Past Month Drinkers Aged 12 to 20 Who Purchased Their Own Alcohol the Last Time They Drank, by State: 2008 to 2010
This is a map of the United States comparing percentages of past month drinkers aged 12 to 20 who purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank, by state: 2008 to 2010. Accessible table located below this figure.

Figure 2 Table. Percentages of Past Month Drinkers Aged 12 to 20 Who Purchased Their Own Alcohol the Last Time They Drank, by State: 2008 to 2010
State Percentage of Past Month
Underage Drinkers Who Themselves
Purchased Last Alcohol They Used
New Mexico   2.52%
Idaho   2.57%
Oregon   2.57%
Utah   3.23%
Tennessee   3.89%
Wyoming   4.16%
Maine   4.46%
Alaska   4.64%
North Dakota   4.67%
Minnesota   4.93%
Nebraska   5.77%
Arizona   5.84%
Hawaii   5.91%
Washington   6.12%
New Hampshire   6.15%
Colorado   6.16%
South Dakota   6.31%
South Carolina   6.72%
Arkansas   6.85%
Montana   6.96%
New Jersey   6.98%
Pennsylvania   6.99%
Virginia   7.05%
Vermont   7.19%
Indiana   7.31%
Delaware   7.34%
Ohio   7.44%
California   7.67%
Oklahoma   8.09%
West Virginia   8.31%
Michigan   8.45%
Illinois   8.52%
Georgia   9.06%
Kansas   9.16%
Nevada   9.43%
Maryland   9.44%
Texas   9.52%
Wisconsin   9.76%
Iowa   9.84%
Florida   9.93%
Massachusetts 10.07%
Missouri 10.43%
Kentucky 10.53%
Alabama 10.77%
Mississippi 10.88%
Rhode Island 11.17%
District of Columbia 11.24%
Connecticut 12.67%
North Carolina 12.94%
Louisiana 13.95%
New York 15.02%
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), 2008 to 2010 (revised March 2012).


Discussion

Underage drinking is a serious and persistent problem in the United States. Although there is wide variation in underage drinking and self-purchase of alcohol by underage drinkers among States, no State is immune from these problems. Highlighting the prevalence of these problems in each State can help Federal, State, and local policy makers plan for and allocate resources to combat underage drinking, including efforts to reduce the availability of alcohol to young people, raise awareness about underage drinking and its consequences, and develop effective approaches to prevent underage drinking.


End Notes
1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006, January). A comprehensive plan for preventing and reducing underage drinking (DHHS Publication No. SMA 01-3517). Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/media/pdf/underagerpttocongress.pdf
2 Alcohol Policy Information System, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2009, September 28). State profiles of underage drinking laws. Retrieved from http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/state_profiles_of_underage_drinking_laws.html
3 Pemberton, M. R., Colliver, J. D., Robbins, T. M., & Gfroerer, J. C. (2008). Underage alcohol use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (DHHS Publication No. SMA 08-4333, Analytic Series A-30). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. Retrieved from http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Underage-Alcohol-Use-Findings-from-the-2002-2006-National-Surveys-on-Drug-Use-and-Health-NSDUH-/SMA08-4333
4 This report uses State estimates based solely on the weighted sample for each State (i.e., direct State estimates) and does not use the small area estimation (SAE) methodology. Therefore, estimates in this report should not be compared with any previous NSDUH reports that use the SAE methodology.
5 Estimates were divided into quintiles for ease of presentation and discussion, but differences between States and quintiles were not tested for statistical significance. In some instances, more than 10 or fewer than 10 States were assigned to each quintile because of ties in the estimated prevalence rates.


Suggested Citation
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (November 20, 2012). The NSDUH Report: State Estimates of Underage Alcohol Use and Self-Purchase of Alcohol: 2008 to 2010. Rockville, MD.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 2008 to 2010 data used in this report are based on information obtained from 93,700 persons aged 12 to 20. The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence.

The NSDUH Report is prepared by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), SAMHSA, and by RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. (RTI International is a trade name of Research Triangle Institute.)

Information on the most recent NSDUH is available in the following publication:

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2011). Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings (NSDUH Series H-41, HHS Publication No. SMA 11-4658). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Also available online: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/.

The NSDUH Report is published periodically by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (formerly the Office of Applied Studies), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Additional copies of this report or other reports from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality are available online: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/. Citation of the source is appreciated. For questions about this report, please e-mail: shortreports@samhsa.hhs.gov.

NSDUH_111


This is the page footer.

This page was last updated on October 11, 2010.