The 1978 Survey of Adolescent Drinking Behavior demonstrated, as did previous research, that the majority of high school students in the U.S. use alcohol. The Survey also showed that the minimum-drinking-age law correlated consistently with drinking behavior variables: 10th through 12th grade respondents from states with 21-year drinking-age laws were more likely to report abstinence and if they used alcohol, were less likely to be heavy drinkers than respondents from states with 18- to 20-year drinking ages or those from mixed states. These latter two state categories rarely differed, except in daily consumption of hard liquor. The data reveal that higher-drinking-age laws were related to less peer approval of drinking and less perceived peer drinking, less drinking and driving, less accessibility to alcoholic beverages, and less frequent intoxication. No relationship was found between drinking-age laws and perceived reasons for drinking and negative functions of alcohol, possibly because of the subjectiveness of these variables. There was a marked discrepancy between respondents' self-evaluation of drinking problems and the incidence of problem drinking based on the incidence of drunkeness and negative consequences of alcohol use during one year. A low incidence of problem drinking was found by applying a series of individual negative alcohol consequences in a simple summary variable for respondents in all drinking classifications. Preliminary data suggest that drinking-age laws are correlated with youths' drinking practices and patterns, and with frequency of intoxication, drinking and driving, and peers' use of and attitudes toward alcohol. More refined analysis is in progress.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Published in HS-030 215, "Minimum-Drinking-Age Laws. An Evaluation," Lexington, Massachusetts and Toronto, 1980, pp 155-76.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Lexington Books

    4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200
    Lanham, MD  United States  20706
  • Authors:
    • Maisto, S A
    • Rachal, J V
  • Publication Date: 1980

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 22 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00379512
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-030 223
  • Contract Numbers: NIAAAADM-281-76-0019
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: Nov 30 1983 12:00AM