How prevalent is drinking in middle school

iStock_000011675370XSmallThe problem of drinking in high school has gradually been pushed down to the middle school level. But just how prevalent is drinking in middle school? And, what are the patterns of drinking in this age group?

In a study recently published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, researchers say about 32% of 7th and 8th graders reported having at least one drink and 21.5% report current drinking (within the past 30 days). Current drinkers indicated that they had their first drink was at 10 to 11 years old on average.

A total of 5.7% of 7th-graders and 12.4% of 8th-graders reported binge drinking (5+ drinks per occasion) the past 30 days, the study says. Middle school students most frequently drank with 3 to 4 teens, in their home or at a friend’s home.

“While four out of five students were nondrinkers or had limited experience with alcohol, almost one-tenth of the sample had more significant alcohol engagement associated with substantially higher rates of alcohol-related problems (i.e., hazardous and problematic drinkers) and had the earliest age of first drink (around age 9.5 years).”

The study was based on the results of a survey of 1,171 -students in 4 middle schools in San Diego County.

“Middle School Drinking: Who, Where, and When” by Kristen Anderson and Sandra Brown, Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, Volume 20, pps. 48-62, 2011.

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