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3. Patterns of Underage Alcohol Use and Disorders: 2002-2006

This chapter presents estimates of alcohol use and alcohol dependence or abuse among persons aged 12 to 20 based on annual averages for the combined 2002 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs). Combining data from these 5 survey years increases the sample size to support detailed estimates and is particularly useful for examining demographic and geographic correlates of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders.

The first section in this chapter presents estimates of alcohol use by demographic group, including age group, gender, race/ethnicity, income level, county type, and geographic area. Variations by State also are presented. The alcohol use measures include current (i.e., past month) use, binge use, and heavy use. The second section presents estimates of alcohol use disorders, defined as alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year, by demographic group and geographic area. The third section presents associations between underage drinking and parent alcohol use using data from households in which both a person aged 12 to 20 and his or her mother or father was interviewed.

3.1. Alcohol Use

In 2002 to 2006, more than one in four persons aged 12 to 20 (28.6 percent) had consumed alcohol in the past month, corresponding to an estimated 10.8 million underage current alcohol users (see Table 3.1 in Appendix C). Within this age group, 7.2 million (19.2 percent) engaged in binge alcohol use, and 2.3 million (6.2 percent) were heavy drinkers.

3.1.1. Age

The prevalence of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use among persons aged 12 to 20 was higher for older age groups than for younger age groups (Figure 3.1). For example, current drinking was reported by 7.0 percent of youths aged 12 to 14 (Table 3.3), 27.5 percent of youths aged 15 to 17 (Table 3.4), and 51.3 percent of 18 to 20 year olds (Table 3.5). In addition, 3.3 percent of persons aged 12 to 14, 17.8 percent of persons aged 15 to 17, and 36.3 percent of persons aged 18 to 20 were binge alcohol users. The prevalence of heavy drinking was 0.5 percent for 12 to 14 year olds, 4.5 percent for 15 to 17 year olds, and 13.4 percent for 18 to 20 year olds. Thus, more than one in three persons aged 18 to 20 was a binge drinker, and more than one in eight was a heavy drinker.

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Figure 3.1 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Age: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.1

3.1.2. Gender

Among all underage persons, males were more likely than females to be current alcohol users (29.4 percent for males, 27.8 percent for females), binge drinkers, (21.6 percent for males, 16.5 percent for females), and heavy drinkers (7.9 percent for males, 4.3 percent for females) (Table 3.1).

3.1.3. Race/Ethnicity

Among persons aged 12 to 20, non-Hispanic whites had higher rates of current and heavy alcohol use than any other racial/ethnic group, and they had a higher rate of binge use than non-Hispanic blacks, Asians, or Hispanics (Table 3.2). For example, approximately one third (32.6 percent) of whites were current users compared with 27.2 percent of American Indians or Alaska Natives, 25.7 percent of Hispanics, 24.3 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, 18.8 percent of blacks, and 17.1 percent of Asians (Figure 3.2). Blacks had lower rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking compared with whites or Hispanics.

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Figure 3.2 Current Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Race/Ethnicity: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.2

Among underage Hispanics, Cubans had a higher rate of current alcohol use (32.0 percent) than Central or South Americans (26.0 percent), Puerto Ricans (25.0 percent), or Mexicans (24.9 percent) (Table 3.2). There were no differences between Hispanic groups for binge or heavy alcohol use. Among underage Asians, rates of binge alcohol use were higher among Japanese (12.9 percent), Koreans (12.9 percent), and Filipinos (12.0 percent) than among Chinese (7.2 percent) or Vietnamese (5.2 percent). Koreans and Filipinos also had higher rates of binge alcohol use than Asian Indians (7.1 percent).

3.1.4. Gender, by Age Group

The pattern of differences between males and females in the prevalence of current drinking differed by age group. Among youths aged 12 to 14, the rate of current drinking was higher for females (7.7 percent) than for males (6.3 percent) (Table 3.3 and Figure 3.3). For those aged 18 to 20, however, the rate of current drinking was higher for males (54.4 percent) than for females (47.9 percent) (Table 3.5). There was no difference in the rate of current drinking for males and females among persons aged 15 to 17 (Table 3.4). For binge and heavy drinking, there were no gender differences for those aged 12 to 14, whereas for those aged 15 to 17 or 18 to 20, males had higher rates than females. For example, the rates of binge drinking were higher for males than for females for those aged 15 to 17 (19.0 percent for males, 16.5 percent for females) and those aged 18 to 20 (42.6 percent for males, 29.7 percent for females).

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Figure 3.3 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Age Group and Gender: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.3

3.1.5. Race/Ethnicity, by Age Group

Among youths aged 12 to 14, non-Hispanic whites had a higher prevalence of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use compared with blacks or Asians (Table 3.3). For example, 7.5 percent of whites in this age group had consumed alcohol in the past month compared with 4.7 percent of blacks and 3.2 percent of Asians. However, rates of binge drinking for those aged 12 to 14 were lower for whites (3.4 percent) than for American Indians or Alaska Natives (8.1 percent) or for Hispanics (4.3 percent).

The pattern of racial/ethnic differences for those aged 15 to 17 was similar to that for those aged 12 to 14, with a higher percentage of non-Hispanic whites engaging in current, binge, and heavy alcohol use than blacks or Asians (Table 3.4). In contrast to the findings for those 12 to 14, a higher percentage of whites than Hispanics aged 15 to 17 engaged in current alcohol use (31.4 percent for whites, 26.0 percent for Hispanics), binge alcohol use (21.0 percent for whites, 17.1 percent for Hispanics), and heavy alcohol use (5.8 percent for whites, 3.7 percent for Hispanics). Within this age group, rates of current and binge alcohol use were also higher among whites (31.4 percent current users, 21.0 percent binge users) compared with Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (17.4 percent current users, 9.1 percent binge users).

There were also differences between non-Hispanic whites and other racial/ethnic groups in alcohol consumption among persons aged 18 to 20. A higher percentage of whites in this age group were current or heavy drinkers compared with those in any other racial/ethnic group, though this difference was not statistically significant for those who reported being two or more races (Table 3.5). For example, 17.4 percent of whites in this age group were heavy drinkers compared with 8.8 percent of Hispanics, 7.9 percent of American Indians or Alaska Natives, 7.4 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, 4.3 percent of Asians, and 4.1 percent of blacks. A similar pattern was found for binge drinking, which was more prevalent among whites (42.9 percent) than among American Indians or Alaska Natives (35.4 percent), Hispanics (31.3 percent), blacks (18.6 percent), or Asians (18.4 percent).

3.1.6. Income Level

As shown in Table 3.6 and Figure 3.4, persons aged 12 to 20 whose family income was less than $20,000 had higher rates of current (33.9 percent), binge (23.7 percent), and heavy drinking (8.7 percent) compared with those whose family income was $20,000 or higher. In addition, persons in this age group whose family income was $75,000 or higher were more likely to have engaged in current, binge, and heavy alcohol use than those whose family income was $20,000 to $49,000 or those whose family income was $50,000 to $74,999. For example, 28.6 percent of persons aged 12 to 20 whose family income was $75,000 or higher were current drinkers compared with 26.0 percent for those with a family income of $20,000 to $49,999 and 26.4 percent for those with a family income of $50,000 to $74,999.

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Figure 3.4 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Family Income: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.4

3.1.7. County Type

There was considerable variation in the rates of alcohol use among persons aged 12 to 20 by county type. Underage persons who lived in counties in nonmetropolitan areas were more likely than those who lived in counties in metropolitan areas to engage in binge drinking (20.8 percent in nonmetropolitan areas, 18.8 percent in metropolitan areas) and heavy drinking (6.9 percent in nonmetropolitan areas, 6.0 percent in metropolitan areas) (Table 3.6 and Figure 3.5). The rate of current drinking among underage persons was 29.4 percent among those who lived in nonmetropolitan areas and 28.5 percent among those who lived in metropolitan areas, though this difference was not statistically significant. Underage persons who lived in counties in small metropolitan areas (population less than 1 million) had higher rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking than those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas (population of 1 million or more). Furthermore, persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties had higher rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking than those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas, counties in small metropolitan areas, or rural counties. For example, 22.2 percent of underage persons who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties were binge drinkers compared with 17.7 percent of those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas, 20.8 percent in small metropolitan areas, and 19.8 percent in rural counties.

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Figure 3.5 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by County Type: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.5

3.1.8. Demographic Differences within County Type

Across county types, underage persons in younger age groups had lower rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use compared with older age groups. For example, the prevalence of current drinking in counties in metropolitan areas was 6.7 percent for 12 to 14 year olds, 27.1 percent for 15 to 17 year olds, and 51.5 percent for 18 to 20 year olds (Table 3.7). Within rural counties, the prevalence of current drinking was 8.7 percent for 12 to 14 year olds, 30.0 percent for 15 to 17 year olds, and 46.1 percent for 18 to 20 year olds (Table 3.9).

There was little variation in the pattern of alcohol use among males and females by county type. For example, the rate of current alcohol use among those who lived in counties in metropolitan areas was higher for males (29.1 percent) than females (27.8 percent), and current drinking was also more prevalent among males in rural counties (30.0 percent) than among females (26.0 percent).

There was considerable variation in the pattern of alcohol use by race/ethnicity between counties in metropolitan areas and rural counties. For example, among persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in counties in metropolitan areas, the prevalence of current drinking was higher for non-Hispanic whites (33.2 percent in metropolitan areas) than for Hispanics (25.3 percent) (Table 3.7 and Figure 3.6). In rural counties, however, underage Hispanics had a higher prevalence of current drinking (32.4 percent) than underage whites (28.9 percent) (Table 3.9). This pattern was similar for binge drinking, with a higher percentage of whites (22.9 percent) than Hispanics (17.0 percent) who lived in metropolitan areas reporting binge drinking, and a higher percentage of Hispanics (24.7 percent) than whites (20.7 percent) in rural counties reporting binge drinking. Whites aged 12 to 20 who lived in counties in metropolitan areas also were more likely to drink heavily (8.2 percent) than were Hispanics (4.1 percent), though there was no difference in the prevalence of heavy drinking between whites and Hispanics in rural counties. Within each county type, blacks were less likely to be current, binge, or heavy drinkers than either whites or Hispanics.

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Figure 3.6 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Race/Ethnicity and County Type: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.6

3.1.9. Geographic Regions

For each of the three measures of past month alcohol use, rates among 12 to 20 year olds were higher in the Northeast and Midwest than in the South or West (Table 3.6 and Figure 3.7). For example, 21.4 percent of those in the Northeast and 21.8 percent of those in the Midwest engaged in binge drinking compared with 17.3 percent of those in the South and 17.8 percent of those in the West.

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Figure 3.7 Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Geographic Region: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.7

3.1.10. States

There was substantial variation among States in the prevalence of underage alcohol consumption. In 2002 to 2006, the rate of current alcohol use among those aged 12 to 20 ranged from a high of 41.2 percent in North Dakota to a low of 19.3 percent in Utah (Table 3.10 and Figure 3.8). Among the States in the highest fifth for current drinking, four were in the Midwest (Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), four were in the Northeast (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), and two were in the West (Montana and Wyoming). Among the States in the lowest fifth for current drinking, six were in the South (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee), three were in the West (California, Idaho, and Utah), and one was in the Midwest (Indiana).

The distribution of underage binge drinking by State was similar to the pattern of current use, ranging from a high of 31.7 percent in North Dakota to a low of 14.1 percent in Utah (Table 3.10 and Figure 3.9). Among the States in the highest fifth for binge drinking, four were in the Midwest (Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), four were in the Northeast (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), and two were in the West (Montana and Wyoming). Among the States in the lowest fifth for binge drinking, eight were in the South (Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas), and two were in the West (California and Utah).

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Figure 3.8 Current Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.8

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Figure 3.9 Binge Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.9

3.2. Alcohol Dependence or Abuse

This section presents differences by demographic group and geographic area in the prevalence of underage persons who met the criteria for alcohol use disorders, defined as alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year. The prevalence rates cited are averages based on combined data from the 2002 to 2006 NSDUHs. In 2002 to 2006, an annual average of 3.5 million persons aged 12 to 20 met the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year (9.4 percent of all persons in this age range) (Table 3.1).

3.2.1. Age

As was the case with the prevalence of alcohol use, the prevalence of past year alcohol dependence or abuse among persons aged 12 to 20 was higher for older persons than for younger persons. Only 0.5 percent of 12 year olds were classified with alcohol use disorders compared with 10.0 percent of those aged 16 and 17.7 percent of those aged 19 or 20 (Table 3.1).

3.2.2. Gender

Among all 12 to 20 year olds, a higher percentage of males (10.3 percent) than females (8.5 percent) met the criteria for past year alcohol dependence or abuse (Table 3.1).

3.2.3. Race/Ethnicity

Dependence or abuse among underage persons varied considerably by race/ethnicity. Among underage persons, more than one in seven American Indians or Alaska Natives (14.9 percent) and one in eight Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders (12.7 percent) met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (Table 3.2 and Figure 3.10). This rate of alcohol use disorders for underage American Indians or Alaska Natives was higher than the rate for whites (10.9 percent), blacks (4.6 percent), Hispanics (8.7 percent), or Asians (4.9 percent). Furthermore, Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders had a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorders than non-Hispanic blacks or Asians, and whites had a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorders than non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, or Asians.

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Figure 3.10 Alcohol Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Race/Ethnicity: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.10

Among Hispanics, the rate of alcohol use disorders among 12 to 20 year olds was lower among Puerto Ricans (6.8 percent) than among Mexicans (8.9 percent) (Table 3.2). Among Asians, the rate of alcohol use disorders was higher among Koreans (9.3 percent) than among any other Asian subgroup except for Filipinos.

3.2.4. Gender, by Age Group

Differences between males and females in the percentage of underage persons who met the criteria for alcohol use disorders in the past year varied considerably by age group. Among youths aged 12 to 14, a higher percentage of females (2.2 percent) than males (1.6 percent) were classified with an alcohol use disorder (Table 3.3 and Figure 3.11). In contrast, among those aged 18 to 20, a higher percentage of males (19.6 percent) than females (13.4 percent) was classified with an alcohol use disorder (Table 3.5). For youths aged 15 to 17, there was no difference between males and females in alcohol dependence or abuse.

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Figure 3.11 Alcohol Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Gender and Age: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.11

3.2.5. Race/Ethnicity, by Age Group

The pattern of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year among racial/ethnic groups was similar for those aged 12 to 14 or aged 15 to 17. Among youths aged 12 to 14, the percentage of American Indians or Alaska Natives classified with alcohol dependence or abuse (4.2 percent) was higher than among non-Hispanic whites, blacks, or Asians (Table 3.3). Among youths aged 15 to 17, the percentage of American Indians or Alaska Natives classified with alcohol dependence or abuse (19.0 percent) was higher than among whites, blacks, Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, Asians, or Hispanics (Table 3.4). Blacks and Asians aged 12 to 14 or 15 to 17 had a similar prevalence of alcohol use disorders as Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, but they had a lower prevalence than any other racial/ethnic group. Similarly, for persons aged 18 to 20, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders was lower among blacks (9.2 percent) and Asians (9.6 percent) than among whites (19.2 percent), American Indians or Alaska Natives (22.1 percent), Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (24.5 percent), persons reporting two or more races (22.4 percent), or Hispanics (14.5 percent) (Table 3.5). These data indicate that nearly one out of four American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, or persons aged 18 to 20 reporting two or more races met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

3.2.6. Income Level

As shown in Table 3.6, persons aged 12 to 20 whose family income was less than $20,000 had higher rates of past year alcohol dependence or abuse (11.6 percent) compared with those whose family income was $20,000 to $49,999 (8.4 percent), $50,000 to $74,999 (8.5 percent), or $75,000 or higher (9.2 percent).

3.2.7. County Type

Among underage persons, those who lived in counties in nonmetropolitan areas were more likely than those who lived in counties in metropolitan areas to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year (10.6 percent in nonmetropolitan areas, 9.1 percent in metropolitan areas) (Table 3.6). Underage persons who lived in small metropolitan areas had higher rates of alcohol use disorder (10.3 percent) than those who lived in large metropolitan areas (8.5 percent). Furthermore, persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties had higher rates of alcohol use disorders (11.7 percent) than those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas (8.5 percent), small metropolitan areas (10.3 percent), or rural counties (9.8 percent).

3.2.8. Demographic Differences within County Type

As was the case with the prevalence of alcohol use, the pattern of alcohol use disorder by age group and gender was similar across county types. In each county type, those in older age groups were more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than younger age groups, and males were more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than females (Tables 3.7 to 3.9). However, there was considerable variation in the pattern of alcohol use disorders by race/ethnicity between counties in metropolitan areas and rural counties. Among persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in counties in metropolitan areas, the prevalence of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year was higher for non-Hispanic whites (10.9 percent in metropolitan areas) than for Hispanics (8.4 percent) (Table 3.7 and Figure 3.12). In contrast, there were no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among underage whites and Hispanics who lived in either urbanized nonmetropolitan counties or in rural counties. Within each county type, blacks were less likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year than either whites or Hispanics, though this difference did not reach statistical significance for those who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties.

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Figure 3.12 Alcohol Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Race/Ethnicity and County Type: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.12

3.2.9. Geographic Regions

Persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in the Midwest had higher rates of alcohol dependence or abuse (10.7 percent) than those who lived in the Northeast (9.5 percent), West (9.5 percent), or South (8.4 percent) (Table 3.6). The prevalence of alcohol use disorders among underage persons in the South was lower than for any other region.

3.2.10. States

In 2002 to 2006, the rates of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year among those aged 12 to 20 ranged from a high of 17.8 percent in Montana to a low of 7.1 percent in Mississippi (Table 3.10 and Figure 3.13). Of the States in the top fifth in the prevalence of alcohol use disorders, five were in the Midwest (Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), three were in the West (Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming), and two were in the Northeast (New Hampshire and Vermont). Of the States in the bottom fifth, nine were in the South (Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee), and one was in the West (Utah).

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Figure 3.13 Alcohol Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.13

3.3. Association of Underage Drinking and Parental Alcohol Use

This section presents information on the association between drinking by persons aged 12 to 20 and drinking by their parents. The prevalence rates cited are averages from the 2002 to 2006 NSDUHs, utilizing data from households in which both a person aged 12 to 20 and his or her mother or father was interviewed.

3.3.1. Alcohol Use

In 2002 to 2006, there was a clear association between current drinking by persons aged 12 to 20 and past year drinking by their parents. Rates of current alcohol use, binge use, and heavy use among underage persons were considerably higher among persons aged 12 to 20 who lived with a parent who had consumed alcohol in the past year compared with those who lived with a parent who had not consumed alcohol in the past year (Table 3.11). For example, rates of binge drinking among underage persons were higher for those who lived with a parent who had consumed alcohol in the past year, whether that parent was a mother (17.6 percent for those whose mother was a past year drinker vs. 9.3 percent for those whose mother was not a past year drinker) or a father (16.5 percent for those whose father was a past year drinker vs. 10.2 percent for those whose father was not a past year drinker) (Figure 3.14). Furthermore, rates of underage binge drinking were higher among those who lived with a mother who was a binge drinker (21.3 percent) than among those whose mother had used alcohol in the past month but had not binged (17.5 percent). Similarly, 19.5 percent of underage persons whose father had binged in the past month were binge drinkers compared with 15.4 percent among those whose fathers had used alcohol in the past month but had not binged.

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Figure 3.14 Binge Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Parental Alcohol Use: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.14

Household Structure. The comparisons of drinking patterns of underage persons and their parents can be further examined by the number of parents living in the household. Mother-child pairs are more likely than father-child pairs to come from single-parent households (22.3 vs. 5.3 percent). For both one-parent and two-parent households, rates of binge and heavy alcohol use were higher among underage persons who lived with a mother or father who had consumed alcohol in the past year compared with those who lived with a mother or father who did not drink in the past year (Table 3.12). In addition, for underage persons who lived in two-parent households, rates of binge drinking were higher among those who lived with a mother who had binged on alcohol in the past month compared with those who lived with a mother who had consumed alcohol in the past month but had not binged. Rates of heavy drinking were higher among those who lived with a father who had binged on alcohol in the past month compared with those who lived with a father who was a current drinker but was not a binge drinker.

3.3.2. Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year

As was the case for alcohol use, there was a clear association between the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among 12 to 20 year olds and drinking by their parents. Underage persons whose parents had consumed alcohol in the past year had a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorders in the past year whether that parent was a mother (7.9 percent for those whose mother was a past year drinker vs. 5.2 percent for those whose mother was not a past year drinker) or a father (8.0 percent for those whose father was a past year drinker vs. 5.2 percent for those whose father was not a past year drinker) (Table 3.11 and Figure 3.15). A similar pattern was found for fathers who binged on alcohol during the past month, with higher rates of alcohol use disorders among underage persons whose fathers were binge drinkers versus those whose fathers were past month users but were not binge drinkers (10.2 and 7.1 percent, respectively). There was no significant difference in alcohol use disorders between underage persons whose mothers were binge drinkers and those whose mothers were past month drinkers but were not binge drinkers.

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Figure 3.15 Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Parental Alcohol Use: Annual Averages, 2002-2006

Figure 3.15

Household Structure. Analyses of the link between alcohol use disorders among underage persons and alcohol use by their parents for one-parent and two-parent households are limited by small sample sizes, especially for fathers in one-parent households. Looking just at two-parent households, underage persons whose mothers had consumed alcohol in the past year were more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse (7.6 percent) than those whose mothers did not drink in the past year (4.8 percent) (Table 3.12). This pattern held for fathers as well, with 7.9 percent of underage persons whose fathers had drunk alcohol in the past year meeting the criteria for an alcohol use disorder compared with 5.4 percent of those whose fathers did not drink in the past year. In addition, 12 to 20 year olds in two-parent households had a higher rate of past year alcohol use disorder if their father was a binge drinker (9.9 percent) than if their father was a past month drinker but was not a binge drinker (6.9 percent). There was no significant difference in alcohol use disorders between underage persons in two-parent households whose mothers were binge drinkers and those whose mothers were past month drinkers but were not binge drinkers.

3.4. Summary

Combined data from 2002 to 2006 indicated that among persons aged 12 to 20, rates of current (past month), binge, and heavy alcohol use were higher for those who were older than for those who were younger and for males than for females. Among all persons aged 12 to 20, non-Hispanic whites had higher rates of current and heavy alcohol use than any other racial/ethnic group. Whites aged 12 to 14 had a lower rate of binge drinking than Hispanics and American Indians or Alaska Natives, but among those aged 15 to 17 or those aged 18 to 20, whites had higher rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking compared with Hispanics. Underage persons whose family income was less than $20,000 or $75,000 or higher had higher rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking compared with those whose family income was $20,000 to $74,999. Underage persons who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties had higher rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking than those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas, counties in small metropolitan areas, or rural areas. The pattern of underage alcohol use by racial/ethnic group differed between county types, with a higher rate for current drinking among non-Hispanic whites (33.2 percent) than among Hispanics (25.3 percent) in metropolitan areas. In rural areas, however, the rate for current drinking was higher among Hispanics (32.4 percent) than among whites (28.9 percent).

Among youths aged 12 to 14, a higher percentage of females (2.2 percent) than males (1.6 percent) were classified with an alcohol use disorder. This pattern was reversed for those aged 18 to 20, with a higher percentage of males (19.6 percent) than females (13.4 percent) who were classified with an alcohol use disorder. Among all persons aged 12 to 20, more than one in seven American Indians or Alaska Natives (14.9 percent) and one in eight Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (12.7 percent) met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. As was the case with alcohol use, persons aged 12 to 20 who lived in urbanized nonmetropolitan counties had higher rates of alcohol use disorders than those who lived in counties in large metropolitan areas, small metropolitan areas, or rural areas. Also, the prevalence of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year among those who lived in counties in metropolitan areas was higher for non-Hispanic whites (10.9 percent) than for Hispanics (8.4 percent). However, there were no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of alcohol use disorders between underage whites and Hispanics who lived in urbanized metropolitan counties or rural counties. Within counties in metropolitan or rural areas, blacks were less likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year than either whites or Hispanics.

Among underage persons, rates of current alcohol use, binge use, and heavy use, as well as rates of alcohol use disorders, were higher among persons who lived with a parent who had consumed alcohol in the past year compared with those who lived with a parent who had not consumed alcohol in the past year. Furthermore, rates of underage binge drinking were higher among those who lived with a mother or father who was a binge drinker than among those whose mother or father had used alcohol in the past month but had not binged. Underage persons who lived with a father who was a binge drinker also had higher rates of alcohol use disorders in the past year compared with those whose father was a current drinker but was not a binge drinker, whereas there was no difference in alcohol use disorders between those whose mothers were binge drinkers and those whose mothers were current drinkers but were not binge drinkers.

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This page was last updated on June 19, 2008.