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FIGURE 2-4 Prevalence of any use, heavy use, and frequent, heavy use of alcohol in the past 30 days, for youths aged 12 to 20, 2000.

SOURCE: Flewelling et al. (2004, Fig. 1).

example, despite continual decreases between 1996 and 2002 in lifetime use among junior high students (eighth graders), nearly one-half (47 percent) still report drinking in their lifetimes. Similarly, while the proportion of high school seniors who report having had five or more drinks in the past 2 weeks has decreased every year since 1998, nearly 30 percent (28.6) still report such use.

As drinking becomes legal, with the exception of 21- to 25-year-olds, the rate of heavy drinking and frequent, heavy drinking decreases substantially with increasing age (see Figure 2-5). In contrast, alcohol use that is not heavy (i.e., having fewer than five drinks on one occasion) increases and remains higher than that of underage drinkers until the age of 55. After their early 20s, adults begin to drink in a far more moderate manner than underage drinkers (SAMHSA, 2003).

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