The CBHSQ Report header
National Survey on Drug Use and Health
June 11, 2015
Underage Drinking Declined Between 2002 and 2013
NSDUH series graphic.

Past month alcohol use and binge alcohol use among people aged 12 to 20: 2002 to 2013

This line chart shows trends in past month alcohol use and bine alcohol use among people aged 12 to 20 from 2002 to 2013. If you would like someone from our staff to read the numbers on this graph or table image to you, please call 240-276-1250.

Underage alcohol use is one of the most serious public health issues facing youths in the United States. Every year, underage drinking undermines the well-being of America’s youths, causing a wide range of costly health and social problems.1 Underage alcohol initiation increases a youth’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life and increases the likelihood of driving after drinking too much at some point in their lives.1 However, alcohol remains the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youths. For example, a higher percentage of youths aged 12 to 20 in 2013 used alcohol in the past month (22.7 percent) than tobacco (16.9 percent) or illicit drugs (13.6 percent). 

In 2013, about 8.7 million people aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Approximately 5.4 million (14.2 percent) were current (e.g., past month) binge drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.Underage drinking declined from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013. Underage binge drinking also decreased between 2002 and 2013. Despite these declines over time, about 1 in 5 people aged 12 to 20 were past month underage drinkers in 2013, and about 1 in 7 were binge drinkers.

Declines in alcohol use by those aged 12 to 20 indicate that underage drinking can be prevented. To learn more about how to talk to youths about alcohol use, please see

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking. Washington, DC: Author.
  2. In this report, the definition of binge alcohol use is the same for both males and females and for all age groups.