Local, State & National Statistics

National Statistics

  • In 2012, about 9.3 million persons aged 12 to 20 (24.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Approximately 5.9 million (15.3 percent) were binge drinkers, and 1.7 million (4.3 percent) were heavy drinkers (1)
  • Unlike adults, when young people drink, they tend to drink a lot at one time, or “binge” drink (2)
  • Of adults who started drinking before age 15, approximately 40% say they have signs of alcohol dependence (3)
  • Underage drinking can lead to poor decisions about risky sexual activity, driving while intoxicated and behavior problems
  • Alcohol is the drug of choice among adolescents. About two in five eighth graders have consumed alcohol in their lifetime. 17% of eighth graders report using alcohol in the past month—more than cigarettes and marijuana combined (2)
  • Research shows that alcohol use increases with age, for example, 13.5% of 9th graders have engaged in binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks on a single occasion) compared to 29% of 12th graders report doing so (4)

(1) Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, available at http://www.samhsa.gov/data/nsduh/2012summnatfinddettables/nationalfindings/nsduhresults2012.htm#ch3.2 (2) Wechsler H, Nelson TF, 2008. What We Have Learned From the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2008. (3) Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44360/ (4) 2013 National YRBSS Survey, available at http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm

The 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

  • Approximately 1 out of 5 (19%) high school students had their first drink of alcohol (other than a few sips) before the age of 13
  • Over one-third (35%) of students reported having one or more rinks of alcohol in the past 30 days
  • A total of 21% of students reported binge drinking in the past 30 days
  • Approximately 1 out of 10 of students (9%) reported trying marijuana for the first time before the age of 13
  • Approximately 4 out of 10 students (41%) reported lifetime marijuana use (ever trying), and 23.4% of students reported marijuana use in the past 30 days. The prevalence of marijuana use has not changed compared to previous years
  • A total of 3.2% of students ever used methamphetamines
  • 22% of students reported that they had been offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property during the past year

Additional data is available at http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm

Colorado Statistics

  • Approximately 1 out of 5 (19%) Colorado high school students had their first drink of alcohol (other than a few sips) before the age of 13, down from 27% in 2005
  • Over one-third (36%) of students reported having one or more rinks of alcohol in the past 30 days. This has decreased since 2005 (47%)
  • A total of 22% of students reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. Binge drinking among Colorado high school youth has also decreased from 2005 (31%)
  • Approximately 1 out of 10 of students (9%) reported trying marijuana for the first time before the age of 13
  • Approximately 4 out of 10 students (39.5%) reported lifetime marijuana use (ever trying), and 22% of students reported marijuana use in the past 30 days. The prevalence of marijuana use has not changed compared to 2005 or 2009
  • 20% of students reported that they had taken a prescription drug (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription in their lifetime
  • A total of 3.4% of students ever used methamphetamines
  • Just over 17% of students reported that they had been offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property during the past year, which was a significant decrease from 2009

Additional 2011 Health Kids Colorado Survey data available at https://omniportalpublic.sharepoint.com/Pages/HKCS/Home.aspx

Weld County Statistics

The 2012 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey of Weld County High School students found the following in regards to alcohol use:

  • The onset of alcohol use in Weld County for children was typically by ages 13-14
  • Approximately 1 out of 5 (21.8%) Weld County high school students have had their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13
  • Nearly half (44%) of high school students have had a first drink of alcohol before the age of 15
  • More teens drink alcohol (36%) than smoke cigarettes (17%) or use marijuana (19%) in the past 30 days
  • More than half (62%) of students believe that it would be “very easy” or “sort of easy” to access alcohol if they wanted it, down from 68% in 2010
  • 36% of high school students reported drinking alcohol during the past month, with percentage of those drinking increasing with age. 22% of 9th graders reported drinking alcohol compared to 44% of 12th graders
  • Overall, the percentage of students reporting they drank alcohol in the past month as decreased from 2010, 36% in 2012 down from 41% in 2010
  • 22.5% of all Weld County high school students reported binge drinking (or consuming five or more alcoholic beveragesin a row) on one or more days during the past month. Binge drinking rates increased with age, with 20% of 9th graders compared to 42% of 12th graders reporting they binge drink
  • Perception of risk among high school youth is greatest towards tobacco (85%)
  • Over half of high school youth perceive moderate to great risk in using marijuana (55.9%)
  • Perception of peer disapproval is similar between alcohol (67.8%) and marijuana (66.4%)

For additional Weld County Healthy Kids Colorado Survey statistics, see the HKCS Survey Dashboard.