Although New Jersey’s legal drinking age is 21, 23 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 20 said they have had an alcoholic drink in the past month, according to a national survey in 2012-2013 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
More worrisome, 15 percent said they’ve had at least one episode of binge drinking, defined as at least 5 drinks or more in one sitting.
Having said that, these statistics match or are below national averages (24 percent have had a drink, 15 percent have gone on a binge). This is despite the fact that the Northeast has the highest rate of drinking in the country and is second only to the Midwest in terms of binge drinking, according to the SAMSHA surveys.
Overall, 55 percent of New Jerseyans said they have had a drink in the past month and 22 percent said they recently had an episode of binge drinking. For those between the ages of 12 and 17, the rate of binge drinking was 7.2 percent, although 13.64 percent in high school and middle school said they had used alcohol in the past month.