Alcohol Use Among Adolescents in Juvenile Detention: Findings From the Northwestern Juvenile Project

Monica H. Swahn, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

It is well documented that about half of U.S. adolescents are current alcohol users. Much less is known about the prevalence of alcohol use and patterns of alcohol use among adolescents in juvenile detention. The purpose of the current investigation is to examine the prevalence of alcohol consumption, problem drinking, and alcohol-related negative consequences in a random sample of adolescents who were newly detained in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) in Illinois, between 1995 and 1998. Data were collected by the Northwestern Juvenile Project and include detailed interviews from 1,832 youths (36% females; 64% males) between 10 and 17 years of age. The current investigation will report the age of first alcohol use, frequency of alcohol use, and the prevalence of binge drinking, problem drinking (e.g., drinking more than planned, could not stop drinking), and negative consequences from drinking (e.g., physical symptoms, missing school, engaging in physical fighting). Information from this investigation will help to determine the level of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems among detained youth and may increase our understanding of the need for alcohol-related treatment services in this high-risk group.

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Updated 05/20/2006