Alcohol is the drug of choice among youth, with 12% of 8th-graders, 22% of 10th-graders, and 29% of 12th-graders reporting heavy episodic drinking. Although prevalence rates are at historic lows, alcohol use continues to be widespread among adolescents, and pediatricians must screen for underage and family alcohol use in health assessment visits.

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National surveys make it clear that the use of alcohol among adolescents is both widespread and harmful. By the 12th grade, close to three-quarters of adolescents in high school report ever having an alcoholic drink, and more than one-quarter report having their first drink before age 13 years. Data from Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of youth in the United States, show that 71% of high school seniors reported some experience with alcohol in the past; 41% reported use in the last 30 days and, of great concern,...

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