1 in 5 High Schoolers Ride in Cars Driven by Drinkers

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

In a recently released study performed by Project Know, researchers found that a large number of families in the United States are negatively affected each year as a result of underage drinking, as more than 4,000 youth under the age of 21 die from alcohol consumption.

The report, “High School Alcohol Use Trends: A Look at Underage Drinking Statistics,” takes a closer look at the most recent data available from the CDC in order to determine the most current trends in alcohol use among high school students.

Findings show one in five high school students admit to riding in a vehicle with a driver who had consumed alcohol, while 10% of seniors admitted to driving drunk themselves.  Meanwhile, 12th grade males were found to binge drink more often, as 9% said they had consumed 10 drinks or more in only two hours.  In all, close to 18% of students stated they were under the age of 13 when they first tried alcohol.

Despite this, students today drink 15% less than high schoolers did in the 1990s.

Data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show close to 2,000 of the more than 4,000 deaths each year as the result of vehicle crashes, an additional 1,600 deaths resulting from homicide, and the rest due to suicide and fatal injuries.

A recent CDC study on current youth alcohol use by state found that, on average, 32.8% of participants had consumed alcohol within 30 days of taking the survey.  However, that number varied greatly across states.  While Louisiana had a higher percentage of underage drinking at 39%, states such as Utah, which had 11%, came in far below the average.

While it is typically believed that men drink more alcohol than women, a study performed by the NIAAA between 2002 and 2012 found that difference to be reducing within the United States.  Data from the CDC shows similar results, as the number of males who have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days has seen a drastic drop between 1997 and 2003, and has continued to decline since that time.

Meanwhile, young women who have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days has stayed around the same percentile, 45%-50%, for close to a decade before beginning to follow the same downward trend as men.

A large increase in binge drinking among young women was also found in the NIAA study, while a decrease was found in males at the same time.

“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, all narrowed for females and males,” said Dr. White. “Males still consume more alcohol, but the differences between men and women are diminishing.”

Large consumption of alcohol has been found to have greater risk for women than for men, including liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurotoxicity.  In addition, no matter how old females are, their bodies take longer to metabolize alcohol than the bodies of men do, putting women at greater risk of long-term health issues.