Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance study. The annual survey, which reviews unhealthy behavior among 9th to 12th graders, reported that more than a third of high school students had consumed alcohol and more than one in five reported having engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where binge drinking among teens occurs most.
Most of the states on this list are located in the western half of the United states; that is, in the Southwest, the Northwest and Midwest, including South and North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. In most of these states the population is spread out geographically in small towns rather than large metropolitan areas.
In the 10 states on our list, at least 23.5% of surveyed teens reported drinking at least five drinks in a row within a few hours in the previous 30 days, compared to the 21.9% nationwide. In Arizona, that number was 26.5%. In these states, while the number of high school students reporting having their first drink before the age of 13 was relatively low, the number who have ever consumed at least one alcoholic beverage is higher than most of the country.
While there appears to be no strong relationship between binge drinking and other risky behavior, such as tobacco and drug use, drunk driving was the exception. Of the 10 states on our list, six were in the top 15 for reporting driving after consuming alcohol in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. In North Dakota and Wyoming, 11.7% of high school students said they had driven one or more times after having at least one drink in the past month — the highest proportion in the country. These students also reported among the highest rates of riding with someone else who had been drinking.
24/7 Wall St. considered additional risk behavior data from the CDC to determine whether there was a relationship between drinking among youth and problems among the state’s adults. It appears that states that have binge drinking and drunk driving problems among high school students often have those problems among adults as well. In Wisconsin, 21.6% of adults claimed they had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days — the highest rate of any state. The majority of these states had among the highest percentage of driving fatalities caused by someone driving with blood alcohol levels over the legal limit.
We examined factors that some might expect to be common in states that have high incidence of teen drinking. However, many of these factors, including educational attainment, drug use and crime, did not appear to bear strong relations to teen drinking.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the CDC’s behavioral data, which included reported alcohol and drug consumption for surveyed high school students. The survey, which also looked at other types of health-related behavior, as well as depression, was conducted between September 2010 and December 2011. We also included drunk driving fatalities for 2009, the most recent available year, provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. And 24/7 obtained education attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2010, the most recent available year.
These are the 10 states with the most underage drinking.