Alcohol consumption drops among young adults
A new government study finds consumption of alcohol and binge drinking among young people has been dropping over the past decade.
According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, from 2002 to 2013, the percentage of underage drinkers in the U.S. dropped from 28.8 percent to 22.7 percent. During that same period of time, binge drinking, described as people consuming five or more drinks during one sitting, decreased 5.1 percent, from 19.3 to 14.2 percent.
The study is the latest evidence that alcohol might be losing some of its allure for underage youth, defined in the study as 12 to 20 years old.
"We think this is happening because of an ongoing campaign with students in middle, high school and college, to increase awareness of the effect - to make them aware of the effect of alcohol, especially on their brain," said Ezra Helfand, the executive director of the Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
"We believe the awareness level is growing, it's very akin to the level of smoking that's been declining among youth," he said.
Helfand said for individuals between the age of 12 and 20, binge drinking can be especially dangerous.
"It actually has a direct effect on brain development among young people, anybody especially under the age of 21. We know there is a direct correlation between drinking and brain development which then effects youth when they are in school."
His advice to young people is - take it easy.
"We're not telling them to stop altogether, but please be cognizant of the effect, don't binge drink, don't go over the top," he said.
The survey, which involved more than 30,000 people under the age of 21 all across the county, also found that alcohol remains the preferred substance of abuse among young people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned underage drinking can slow brain development and contribute to incidents such as violence, car crashes and drowning.