Changes in alcohol use and alcohol-related problems among 7th to 12th grade students in New York State, 1983-1994

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1997 Aug;21(5):916-22.


Three comparable representative samples of 7th to 12th grade students in New York State were surveyed in 1983, 1990, and 1994 to determine changes in the patterns of alcohol use over the past decade. Each of the three samples was large (n = 27,335, 23,860, and 19,321, respectively), permitting detailed analysis of changes in alcohol use in various adolescent subgroups according to age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Previous research revealed that there were marked decreases in the prevalence of overall drinking, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems from 1983 to 1990, yet recent national reports indicate that since 1990 there has been an upsurge in substance use among adolescents. Whereas the proportion of drinkers did not significantly increase between 1990 and 1994, average consumption, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems all showed modest, but significant increases in the 1990s. Furthermore, between 1990 and 1994, the age distributions for alcohol use, heavy drinking, and alcohol problems changed, as evidenced by significant age by year of survey interactions. These findings indicate that adolescents are currently drinking, drinking heavily, and experiencing alcohol-related problems at younger ages that they were in past years. Prevention efforts should be targeted at delaying alcohol use in early adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Social Problems / prevention & control
  • Social Problems / statistics & numerical data*