A survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates a downward trend of underage drinking nationwide.
“Just those declines alone I think are a win for public health because we know that’s going to help protect these young brains,” said Dr. Aaron White with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The biggest drop was seen in 2021. Dr. White said the pandemic’s influence on these numbers isn’t known yet. But Lauren wood, the drug free communities coordinator with Deschutes County Public Health, told us, there was certainly some impact.
“The pandemic was a huge time of change in both our community landscape and family landscapes,” said Wood.
Other factors, according to Wood, include how prevalent alcohol is in the community and the perception that there is more drinking than there actually is.
2022 results of the national survey include:
- 11% of eighth graders reported underage drinking
- 21.5% of 10th graders
- 32.6% of 12th graders
Although Deschutes County is seeing a decrease, it most recent reports are from back in 2020.
“We do see a 23.8% of our 11th graders in Deschutes County reporting past 30 day use of alcohol,” said Wood.
Wood added this report also shows the county having higher numbers than the state average by almost 7%.
“We see typically as a state, Oregon coming in higher than the national average,” said Wood.
While the those county and state averages are higher, the number of underage drinkers continues to trend downwards.
Deschutes County Public Health also says parents are the first line of defense for minors drinking. The department encourages parents to have open conversations with their children and to model healthy behaviors.