Go to the Table Of Contents

 

4. Characteristics of Recent Drinking Episodes

This chapter presents information on the social context and location of underage drinking, the sources of alcohol for underage drinkers, and the co-occurrence of underage drinking and illicit drug use. These estimates are based on new items from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and include only data from current (past month) drinkers aged 12 to 20. Findings are presented by age group and gender.

4.1. Social Context of Alcohol Use

Among persons aged 12 to 20 who had used alcohol in the past month, most (80.9 percent) were with two or more people the last time they drank alcohol, 14.3 percent were with one other person the last time they drank, and 4.9 percent were alone (see Table 4.1 in Appendix C). Underage persons who drank with two or more other people on the last occasion in the past month had more drinks on the last occasion on average (4.9 drinks) than those who drank with one other person (3.1 drinks) or those who drank alone (2.9 drinks) (Table 4.2).

4.1.1. Age

In 2006, the majority of underage current drinkers in each age group (i.e., those aged 12 to 14, 15 to 17, and 18 to 20) consumed alcohol with two or more other people the last time they drank (Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1). Among current drinkers, youths aged 12 to 14 were more likely to have been alone (9.0 percent) or with one other person (21.9 percent) the last time they drank compared with youths aged 15 to 17 (5.2 percent alone and 14.6 percent with one other person) or 18 to 20 year olds (4.2 percent alone and 13.2 percent with one other person).

Current drinkers aged 12 to 14 who drank with two or more other people the last time they drank averaged more drinks on the last occasion (3.1 drinks) than those who drank with one other person (2.0 drinks) (Table 4.2 and Figure 4.2). Among current drinkers aged either 15 to 17 or 18 to 20, those who drank with two or more people on the last occasion consumed more drinks on average than those who drank either with one other person or by themselves.

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.1 Social Context of Last Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Age: 2006

Figure 4.1

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.2 Drinks Consumed on Last Occasion of Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Social Context and Age: 2006

Figure 4.2

4.1.2. Gender

Among underage drinkers, the majority of both males and females were with two or more other people on their last drinking occasion (Table 4.1). However, female drinkers were more likely to have been with two or people the last time they drank (83.6 percent) than were male drinkers (78.4 percent). Conversely, male drinkers were more likely to have been alone the last time they drank (6.3 percent) than were female drinkers (3.3 percent).

For both males and females, underage persons who drank with two or more other people on the last occasion consumed more drinks on average than those who drank alone or with one other person (Table 4.2 and Figure 4.3). Males and females who drank alone on the last occasion reported a similar number of drinks on their last drinking occasion (3.1 drinks for males, 2.6 drinks for females), but males consumed more drinks than females when the last occasion was with one other person (3.5 drinks for males, 2.5 drinks for females) or with two or more people (5.8 drinks for males, 3.9 drinks for females).

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.3 Drinks Consumed on Last Occasion of Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Social Context and Gender: 2006

Figure 4.3

4.2. Location of Alcohol Use

Overall, a majority of underage drinkers in 2006 reported that when they last used alcohol they were either in someone else's home (53.4 percent) or their own home (30.3 percent) (Table 4.1 and Figure 4.4). The next most popular drinking locations for this age group were at a restaurant, bar, or club (9.4 percent); in a car or vehicle (5.5 percent); or at a park, on a beach, or in a parking lot (4.8 percent).

Underage drinkers whose last drinking occasion was at someone else's home consumed an average of 4.9 drinks, while those whose last drinking occasion was at their own home consumed an average of 4.0 drinks (Table 4.2 and Figure 4.5). Among the next most popular drinking locations, underage current drinkers whose last alcohol use was at a restaurant or bar averaged 4.6 drinks, and those whose last alcohol use was at school, in a car or vehicle, or at a park, on a beach, or in a parking lot averaged 5.1 drinks. Current drinkers aged 12 to 20 who last drank at a concert or sports game (1.6 percent of all underage drinkers) consumed an average of 6.0 drinks on their last drinking occasion.

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.4 Location of Last Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20: 2006

Figure 4.4

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.5 Drinks Consumed on Last Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Location of Last Alcohol Use: 2006

Figure 4.5

4.2.1. Age

More than 80 percent of underage drinkers in each age group (i.e., those aged 12 to 14, 15 to 17, or 18 to 20) drank at their own or someone else's home when they last used alcohol. However, there were differences in drinking locations between these age groups. Current drinkers aged 12 to 14 were more likely to have been at their own home the last time they drank (38.8 percent) and less likely to have been at someone else's home (45.0 percent) compared with those aged 15 to 17 (26.0 and 60.9 percent, respectively) or those aged 18 to 20 (31.4 and 50.7 percent, respectively) (Table 4.1 and Figure 4.6). In addition, drinkers aged 18 to 20 were more likely than younger age groups to have been in a restaurant, bar, or club on their last drinking occasion (12.9 percent for those aged 18 to 20 vs. 4.6 percent for those aged 12 to 14 and 3.7 percent for those aged 15 to 17), and they were less likely than younger age groups to have been at a park, on the beach, or in a parking lot on their last drinking occasion (2.9 percent for those aged 18 to 20 vs. 8.3 percent for those aged 12 to 14 and 7.7 percent for those aged 15 to 17).

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.6 Location of Last Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Age: 2006

Figure 4.6

Current drinkers aged 12 to 14 who last drank at home consumed an average of 2.2 drinks on their last drinking occasion, whereas those who last drank at someone else's home consumed an average of 3.4 drinks on their last occasion (Table 4.2). This pattern was similar for youths aged 15 to 17 (average of 3.6 drinks if they last drank in their own home, 4.7 drinks if they last drank in someone else's home) and 18 to 20 year olds (average of 4.4 drinks if they last drank in their own home, 5.2 drinks if they last drank in someone else's home).

4.2.2. Gender

Among underage current drinkers, males were more likely than females to have been in their own home on their last drinking occasion (32.2 percent for males, 28.1 for females), whereas females were more likely than males to have been in a restaurant, bar, or club on their last drinking occasion (12.0 percent for females, 7.2 percent for males) (Table 4.1).

Underage male drinkers who last drank alcohol at their own home consumed more drinks on average on their last drinking occasion (4.6 drinks) than underage female drinkers who last drank at their own home (3.3 drinks) (Table 4.2). The pattern was similar for underage drinkers who last drank at someone else's home, with males averaging 5.8 drinks on this last drinking occasion and females averaging 4.0 drinks.

4.3. Sources of Alcohol among Underage Drinkers

This section provides information on the source of last alcohol use in the past month among current drinkers aged 12 to 20 in 2006. The sources of last alcohol use are divided into two categories: (a) underage drinker paid (he or she purchased it or gave someone else money to purchase it) and (b) underage drinker did not pay (he or she received it for free from someone or took it from his or her own or someone else's home).

Among all underage current drinkers, 31.0 percent paid for the alcohol the last time they drank, including 9.3 percent who purchased the alcohol themselves and 21.6 percent who gave money to someone else to purchase it (Table 4.3). The remaining 69.0 percent of underage drinkers did not pay for the alcohol on their last drinking occasion. More than one in four underage drinkers (25.8 percent) indicated that on their last drinking occasion they were given alcohol for free by an unrelated person aged 21 or older. Nearly one in five underage drinkers were given alcohol for free by a member of their family or took the alcohol from their own home on their last drinking occasion, including 6.4 percent who were given alcohol by their parent or guardian, 8.3 percent who were given alcohol by another family member aged 21 or older, and 3.9 percent who took it from their own home.

Persons aged 12 to 20 who paid for alcohol themselves consumed more drinks on their last drinking occasion (5.9 drinks) than did those who did not pay for the alcohol themselves (3.9 drinks) (Table 4.4).

4.3.1. Age

The most common sources of alcohol among underage current drinkers varied substantially by age group. For youths aged 12 to 14, the most common sources were receiving it for free from someone under the age of 21 (17.5 percent), receiving it from a parent or guardian (17.1 percent), or taking it from their own home (15.0 percent) (Table 4.3 and Figure 4.7). For youths aged 15 to 17, the most common sources were receiving it for free from an unrelated person aged 21 or older (20.1 percent), receiving it from someone under the age of 21 (19.9 percent), and giving somebody else money to purchase the alcohol (17.9 percent). For persons aged 18 to 20, the majority of current drinkers either received alcohol for free from an unrelated person aged 21 or older (30.0 percent) or gave somebody else money to purchase the alcohol (25.3 percent).

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.7 Source of Alcohol Used in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Age: 2006

Figure 4.7

Those in older age groups were more likely to have paid for alcohol themselves on their last drinking occasion, with 37.6 percent of 18 to 20 year olds paying for it themselves compared with 23.5 percent of 15 to 17 year olds and 6.6 percent of 12 to 14 year olds.

Within each of these age groups, persons who paid for alcohol themselves on the last occasion had more drinks on average than those who did not pay for alcohol themselves (Table 4.4 and Figure 4.8). For example, youths aged 12 to 14 had 4.8 drinks when they paid for their own drinks, but they had 2.7 drinks when they did not pay for them.

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.8 Drinks Consumed on Last Occasion of Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Source of Last Alcohol Used and Age: 2006

Figure 4.8

4.3.2. Gender

Among underage current drinkers, males were more likely to have paid for alcohol themselves on their last drinking occasion (36.7 percent) than were females (24.5 percent) (Table 4.3). That is, female drinkers aged 12 to 20 were more likely to have others give them alcohol for free than were male drinkers in this age group. Among underage drinkers, similar percentages of females and males reported getting alcohol from their parent or guardian, another family member aged 21 or older, or from their own home. However, underage females were more likely than underage males to have received alcohol without paying from someone not related aged 21 or older (29.8 percent for females, 22.2 percent for males) or from someone under the age of 21 (16.0 percent for females, 12.5 percent for males).

Among both underage males and females, persons who paid for alcohol themselves on the last occasion had more drinks on average (6.8 drinks for males, 4.5 drinks for females) than those who did not pay for alcohol themselves (4.4 drinks for males, 3.4 drinks for females) (Table 4.4).

4.4. Use of Illicit Drugs with Alcohol

In 2006, more than one third (35.8 percent) of persons aged 12 to 20 who used alcohol in the past month also had used an illicit drug in the past month (Table 4.5). Among underage drinkers, marijuana was the drug most often used in the past month (30.0 percent), followed by pain relievers (8.8 percent). Furthermore, 16.0 percent of underage drinkers had used an illicit drug within 2 hours of using alcohol on their last occasion of alcohol use in the past month (Table 4.5). The drug most often used within 2 hours of their last alcohol use in the past month was marijuana (15.0 percent), followed by pain relievers (1.2 percent).

4.4.1. Age

Approximately one in four youths aged 12 to 14 who had used alcohol in the past month had also used an illicit drug in the past month (25.2 percent), as had more than one in three current drinkers aged 15 to 17 (37.0 percent) and those aged 18 to 20 (36.4 percent) (Table 4.5). Current drinkers aged 12 to 14 were less likely to have used marijuana in the past month (15.5 percent) compared with those aged 15 to 17 (31.0 percent) or those aged 18 to 20 (31.2 percent); however, 12- to 14-year-old drinkers used illicit drugs other than marijuana at a similar rate (15.2 percent) as those aged 15 to 17 (15.3 percent).

Among current drinkers, 5.4 percent of 12 to 14 year olds had used an illicit drug within 2 hours of alcohol use on their last drinking occasion, as did 15.7 percent of 15 to 17 year olds and 17.4 percent of 18 to 20 year olds (Table 4.5 and Figure 4.9). For all three age groups, marijuana was used more often with alcohol than any other illicit drug. Drinkers aged 12 to 14 were less likely to have used illicit drugs other than marijuana within 2 hours of their last alcohol use (1.1 percent) than those aged 18 to 20 (2.9 percent).

Below is a figure. Click here for the text describing this figure.

Figure 4.9 Illicit Drug Use within 2 Hours of Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Current Drinkers Aged 12 to 20, by Age: 2006

Figure 4.9

1 Illicit Drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used nonmedically. Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana include cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used nonmedically. These summary estimates do not include data from the methamphetamine use items added in 2005 and 2006.

4.4.2. Gender

Among underage drinkers, males were more likely than females to have used an illicit drug in the past month (37.3 percent for males, 34.0 percent for females) or to have used an illicit drug within 2 hours of their last alcohol use in the past month (18.3 percent for males, 13.4 percent for females) (Table 4.5). Among underage drinkers, males were more likely than females to have used marijuana within 2 hours of their last alcohol use in the past month (17.2 percent for males, 12.6 percent for females), but males and females had similar rates of use of illicit drugs other than marijuana within 2 hours of drinking in the past month.

4.5. Summary

In 2006, most (80.9 percent) of the persons aged 12 to 20 who had consumed alcohol in the past month were with two or more people the last time they drank alcohol, 14.3 percent were with one other person the last time they drank, and 4.9 percent were alone. Among underage drinkers, females were more likely to have been with two or people the last time they drank (83.6 percent) than were males (78.4 percent), whereas males were more likely to have been alone the last time they drank (6.3 percent) than were females (3.3 percent). Males and females who drank alone on the last occasion reported a similar number of drinks on their last drinking occasion (3.1 drinks for males, 2.6 drinks for females), but males consumed more drinks than females did when their last drinking occasion was with one other person (3.5 drinks for males, 2.5 drinks for females) or with two or more people (5.8 drinks for males, 3.9 drinks for females). A majority of underage drinkers reported that when they last used alcohol they were either in someone else's home (53.4 percent) or their own home (30.3 percent). Drinkers aged 12 to 14 were more likely to have been at their own home the last time they drank and less likely to have been at someone else's home compared with drinkers in older age groups, and drinkers aged 18 to 20 were more likely than those in younger age groups to have been in a restaurant, bar, or club on their last drinking occasion.

Among all underage current drinkers, 9.3 percent purchased the alcohol themselves, and 21.6 percent gave money to someone else to purchase it. Underage persons who paid for alcohol themselves consumed more drinks on their last drinking occasion (average of 5.9 drinks) than did those who did not pay for the alcohol themselves (average of 3.9 drinks). More than one in four underage drinkers (25.8 percent) indicated that on their last drinking occasion they were given alcohol for free by an unrelated person aged 21 or older. Among underage drinkers, males were more likely to have paid for alcohol themselves on their last drinking occasion (36.7 percent) than were females (24.5 percent).

In 2006, more than one third (35.8 percent) of persons aged 12 to 20 who used alcohol in the past month also had used an illicit drug in the past month, and 16.0 percent of underage drinkers used an illicit drug with alcohol or within 2 hours of alcohol use on their last occasion of alcohol use in the past month. Marijuana was the illicit drug most used by underage drinkers, with nearly one third (30.0 percent) having used marijuana in the past month, and 15.0 percent having used marijuana with alcohol or within 2 hours of their last alcohol use. Males were more likely than females to have used an illicit drug within 2 hours of their last alcohol use in the past month (18.3 percent for males, 13.4 percent for females).

Go to Top of PageGo to the Table of Contents

This page was last updated on June 19, 2008.