The 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, confirms a disturbing trend that has emerged among American teens since 2008. Following a decade of steady declines, the study found that teen drug and alcohol use is headed in the wrong direction, with marked increases in teen use of marijuana and Ecstasy over the past three years.
The new data underscore alarming patterns in early adolescent alcohol use and found that teens view drinking alcohol – even heavy drinking – as less risky than using other substances. The PATS study also highlights that as underage drinking becomes more normalized among adolescents, parents feel unable to respond to the negative shifts in teen drug and alcohol use.
Of those teens who reported alcohol use, a majority (62 percent) said they had their first full alcoholic drink by age 15, not including sipping or tasting alcohol.
Of those teens who reported alcohol use, one in four (25 percent), said they drank a full alcoholic drink for the first time by age 12 or younger.
Among teens who reported drinking alcohol, the average age of first alcohol use was 14.