Kentucky teens under 18 among least likely to drink alcohol, but binge drinking among them is nearly the national average

About 6 percent (709,000 of 12 million) of U.S. children aged 12 to 14 drank alcohol in 2009, and nearly half got their drinks from their own home, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Because the data are new, they have not been broken down by state, SAMHSA spokesman Bradford Stone said. But the 2007-08 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was released in June 2010, showed Kentucky teens are among the least likely in the country to drink alcohol. Numbers showed about 13.8 percent Kentucky youth ages 12 to 17 had tried alcohol in the month they were surveyed. Census estimates indicate Kentucky has about 235,000 10- to 14-year-olds.

Kentucky ranks 10th lowest in percentage of youths who drink alcohol, the 2007-08 numbers showed. Most of the states with the lowest percentages were in the South, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. The lowest percentage, 7.57, was in Utah; Rhode Island, at 20.7 percent, had the highest. Nationwide, the percentage was 15.3 percent.
Nearly 9 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in Kentucky said they had binged on alcohol in the month they were surveyed, compared to 9.25 percent nationwide.
Research shows underage drinking can lead to future problems. “People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual, countrywide survey involving in-person, at-home interviews with about 70,000 people 12 years of age and older. Each interviewee is randomly selected. Data pertaining to the use of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs and mental health is collected. The survey is funded by SAMHSA. Figures are subject to error margins depending on the size of a state and its sample in the survey.
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