A recent study by Addiction Treatment Magazine has unveiled the states with the highest and lowest rates of underage drinking.
The study analyzed the number of youths aged 12 to 20 who had consumed an alcoholic beverage in the past month and had engaged in binge-drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks in one sitting, according to a statement on the publication’s website.
The data was sourced from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) based on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Study reveals states with the highest teen alcohol use
The research pinpointed Vermont as the state with the highest prevalence of drinkers between the ages of 12 and 20 in the US.
Almost 25% of minors in the state had consumed alcohol, and over 14% had taken part in binge-drinking.
Other states with elevated rates include Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
In Rhode Island, nearly 22% of young individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 drink alcohol monthly, and 12% of minors consume four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting.
In New Hampshire, 20.6% of individuals aged 12 to 20 had consumed alcohol in the past month, while the percentage was 20.4% for Massachusetts.
Completing the top 10 are the states of Oregon, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine, and North Dakota.
On the opposite end, Mississippi boasts the lowest underage drinking prevalence, with only 9.7% of its underage population consuming alcohol.
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It also has the lowest binge-drinking rate, standing at just 5.4%, as per the study.
Utah ranks second-lowest, with figures of 11% for alcohol consumption and 6.8% for binge-drinking among the underage demographic.
North Carolina is the third lowest, where 11.3% of minors consumed alcohol in the last month.
Alabama also ranks lower at 12%, followed by Arkansas at 12.3%.
Rounding out the bottom 10 are Indiana, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas.
“It’s widely acknowledged that underage drinking is a significant concern in the United States, posing numerous risks to the well-being of young individuals, including health hazards, impaired judgment, and the risk of dependency and addiction,” a spokesperson for Addiction Treatment Magazine stated.
“These findings offer a fascinating insight into where underage drinking is most prevalent across the country, with Vermont leading the pack. While strides have been made in reducing underage drinking rates, it remains a pressing issue, and continuous efforts are essential to tackle this challenge and safeguard the health and safety of our youth,” the spokesperson added.
Dr. Chris Tuell, clinical director of addiction services for the Lindner Center of HOPE in Ohio, who wasn’t part of the study, expressed that he wasn’t taken aback by the results.
“The Northeast has consistently reported higher rates of underage drinking for the past two decades,” he shared in an interview. “The exact reasons for these rates remain elusive.”
One potential reason for Vermont’s top position, he suggested, is its rural nature combined with a high number of colleges and universities — the most per capita of any state.
In general, the findings underscore that alcohol consumption among young people remains a concern, Tuell emphasized.
“Research clearly indicates that early alcohol consumption before age 15 significantly increases the risk of enduring addiction and alcoholism issues,” he cautioned.
“Early alcohol consumption — drinking at age 14 or earlier — results in a 7 times higher risk of developing an alcohol issue compared to someone who starts drinking at age 21.”
Other potential reasons for the high rates in certain states might be tied to how alcohol packaging appeals to youth, like flavored beverages, and the association of alcohol consumption with sports events, the expert pointed out.
“This promotes the idea in young people that alcohol is an essential part of having fun,” Tuell remarked.
“A parent’s stance on underage drinking is crucial and stands as one of the most potent protective factors against underage drinking,” he further noted.
With information from Fox News