A new study showed that underage drinking, including binge drinking, is becoming less popular. The rate dropped by 6 percent between 2002 and 2013.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the study results on Thursday, highlighting the news that underage drinking dropped from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013. Underage binge drinking also fell from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent within the same period.
The survey was answered by 67,500 participants between the ages of 12 and 20.
"When parents communicate clear expectations and they are supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking, we can make a difference," said Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), in a press release. "However, there are still 8.7 million current underage drinkers, and 5.4 million current underage binge drinkers. This poses a serious risk not only to their health and to their future, but to the safety and well-being of others. We must do everything we can to prevent underage drinking and get treatment for young people who need it."
Despite the declining trend, alcohol use is still the most commonly used substance by minors. About 23 percent still drink alcohol, higher than tobacco (17 percent) and illegal drugs (13.6 percent).
The researchers attribute the improvement on the different campaigns and policies that discourage children from drinking, such as stricter penalties for fake identification cards, hosting drinking parties for minors and zero tolerance on drunk driving.
"It doesn't surprise me this is going on," said James Fell, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, to USA Today. "The combination of all those laws and enforcement will deter underage people from drinking."