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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Underage Drinking Research Initiative

About the Underage Drinking Research Initiative

The Underage Drinking Research Initiative (UDRI) is a key program of NIAAA. The goal of this initiative is to better understand the factors that compel youth to begin drinking, continue drinking, and progress to harmful use, abuse, and dependence. We seek to understand and address underage drinking within the context of overall development, and to help improve prevention and treatment interventions.

Factors we consider include:

  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Behavior

Who We Are

A working group of NIAAA staff comprises the UDRI. Over a number of years, the UDRI also worked with a multidisciplinary steering committee of experts both from within and outside NIH, representing numerous fields of study including:

  • Adolescent development
  • Child health
  • Brain imaging
  • Genetics
  • Neuroscience
  • Prevention research
  • Public policy
  • Health communications

NIAAA continues to call upon these experts as appropriate for specific UDRI projects.

Our Progress

Since launching in 2004, the Underage Drinking Research Initiative has added to our understanding of youth drinking by:

  • Developing an Underage Drinking Screening Guide, a tool that guides pediatricians and other clinicians through a screening process to assess alcohol use in children and adolescents
  • Bringing together college presidents to inform them about the latest research on college drinking, and to help them develop strategies for reducing drinking on campus
  • Developing and sponsoring a supplement to the April 2008 issue of Pediatrics to present the results of our collaborative work. The supplement includes 7 papers addressing various aspects of the complex relationship between development and underage drinking.
  • Collaborating with the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General on its Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, a major initiative to promote public awareness of underage drinking and its consequences, and outline steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce this widespread public health problem. The Surgeon General called on NIAAA to provide the scientific background and research for the report. 

Learn More about Underage Drinking Issues:



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