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A new annual report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides trend data on people’s perceptions of the risk of illicit substances, including alcohol.  The report also examines how those perceptions may affect the likelihood of people using substances.

The report specifically looked at trends related to binge drinking and found that current binge drinking among those aged 12 and older has remained similar to past years at 23 percent, even though perception of risk from binge drinking nearly every day has decreased from 69.4 percent in 2002 to 66.1 percent in 2014.  The percentage of adolescents who perceived great risk from weekly binge drinking in 2014 (39.2 percent) was similar to the percentages in most years from 2002 to 2013, while the estimates of binge alcohol use among adolescents have declined in most years between 2008 and 2014.

Additionally, the percentage of adolescents who disapprove of their peers having one or two alcoholic beverages a day rose from 84.7 percent in 2002 to 89.7 percent in 2014.

“Underage alcohol use is one of the most serious public health issues facing youth in the United States. This report highlights the success we have had in reducing underage drinking; however we will build on this success by continuing to make sure youth understand the risks associated with underage drinking,” said Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

The report, Substance Risk and Protective Factors and Initiation of Substance Use: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is available on SAMHSA’s website.

Every 52 minutes, someone in the United States dies from a crash involving a drunk driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) SaferRide app helps keep drunk drivers off the road by allowing users to call a taxi or friend by identifying a location where they need to be picked up.

The app gives users three options:

  • Choose from a list of available taxi services in your area and call the taxi directly from the app.
  • Call a pre-programed contact.
  • Collect a map of your current location.

This app is available for free for Android and iPhone devices. Learn more about SaferRide from NHTSA.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a new series of behavioral health barometers. These barometers divide existing SAMHSA data into separate reports for each of the 10 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regions of the United States. Each report uses data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), collected annually. Topics addressed in the reports include youth substance use, youth mental health and treatment, adult mental health and treatment, substance use, and substance use and treatment. The behavioral health barometers are available on SAMHSA’s website here.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council joined together to launch a new public service announcement campaign, “The Ultimate Party Foul” that targets new drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 to remind them that it is illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in their systems. Underage drinking and driving can lead to fines, community service, and loss of a license. The campaign urges teen drivers to designate a sober driver, call a cab, or stay the night. Learn more about the campaign here.