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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
TABLE 2-6 Past Month Heavy Drinking Among 18- to 22-Year-Olds by College Enrollment Status (in percent)
Full-Time College Students
Other Young Adults
Difference Between Students and Others
SOURCE: Data from SAMHSA (2002).
were those living in a dormitory or fraternity house. Bachman et al. (1997) have found a similar “dormitory effect.”
Race and Ethnicity
In general, drinking among racial and ethnic minorities is lower than among whites, and there is a great deal of variability across racial and ethnic groups. Among youths aged 12 to 20, drinking of all types (recent, heavy, frequent heavy) is highest for non-Hispanic whites, followed closely by Native Americans. Asian Americans and African Americans have the lowest prevalence of any racial or ethnic group. Hispanics and youth of multiple races fall about midway between the highest and lowest rates (Flewelling et al., 2004). For the 12- to 20-year-old population as a whole, the prevalence of alcohol use and heavy alcohol use increases among various racial and ethnic groups as they approach the legal drinking age (see Figures 2-6 and 2-7). “Due to sample size limitations, finer breakdowns by age groups and gender within the underage [whites, Hispanics, African Americans] population was only possible for the three major racial/ethnic groups” (Flewelling et al., 2004). This pattern holds for all three age groups and racial and ethnic groups.
Ethnic minorities consistently have lower rates of alcohol use than non-Hispanic whites, although it is unclear whether reporting bias contributes to these differences. Trend analysis of data from the Alcohol Research Group’s National Alcohol Surveys showed that while rates of heavy drinking among 18- to 29-year-olds dropped between 1984 and 1995, rates among African American males remained the same (Caetano and Clark, 1998). This suggests the need to further explore explanations for racial and ethnic differences in drinking rates.