• Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 or Older

    In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted a survey about heavy alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older. The survey includes questions about the recency and frequency of consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, whiskey, brandy, and mixed drinks.  The following highlights the information about binge or heavy drinking among persons aged 12 or older.

    Binge drinking is defined as drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.

    Heavy drinking is defined as binge drinking on at least 5 days in the past 30 days.

    In 2011, heavy drinking was reported by 6.2% of the population aged 12 or older, or 15.9 million people. This rate was lower than the rate of heavy drinking in 2010 (6.7%). Among young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2011, the rate of binge drinking was 39.8% and the rate of heavy drinking was 12.1%, which was lower than the rate in 2010 (13.5%).

    Among persons aged 65 or older, the rate of binge drinking was 8.3% while the rate of heavy drinking was 1.7%.

    The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 13.3% in 2011. Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in 2011 were 7.4 and 1.5%, respectively.

    figure 3.1

    Pregnant Women:

    Among pregnant women aged 15 to 44, an estimated 9.4% reported current alcohol use, 2.6% reported binge drinking, and 0.4% reported heavy drinking. These rates were lower than the rates for non-pregnant women in the same age group (55.1%, 24.5%, and 5.3%, respectively).

    By Education Status:

    Among adults aged 18 or older, rates of binge and heavy alcohol use varied by level of education. Among those with some college education, 26.7% were binge drinkers, and 7.9% were heavy drinkers. Among those who had graduated from college, rates of binge and heavy drinking were 21.8% and 5.4%, respectively.

    Among full-time college students in 2011, 60.8% were current drinkers, 39.1% were binge drinkers, and 13.6% were heavy drinkers. Among those not enrolled full time in college, these rates were 52.0%, 35.4%, and 10.5%, respectively.

    The pattern of higher rates of current alcohol use, binge alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use among full-time college students compared with rates for others aged 18 to 22 has remained consistent since 2002.

    figure 3.3

    By Employment Status:

    Most binge and heavy alcohol users were employed in 2011. Among 56.5 million adult binge drinkers, 42.1 million (74.4%) were employed either full or part-time. Among 15.5 million heavy drinkers, 11.6 million (74.9%) were employed.

    Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol:

    In 2011, an estimated 11.1% of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This percentage has dropped since 2002, when it was 14.2%. The 2011 estimate corresponds to 28.6 million persons. The rate of driving under the influence of alcohol was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (21.9%).

    Among persons aged 12 or older, males were more likely than females (14.6% vs. 7.8%) to drive under the influence of alcohol in the past year.

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    There were an estimated 9.7 million underage (aged 12 to 20) drinkers in 2011, including 6.1 million binge drinkers and 1.7 million heavy drinkers.

    Among underage drinkers, males are more likely than females to be binge alcohol users (17.5% vs. 14.0%) or heavy alcohol users (5.6% vs. 3.2%). Rates among underage males for binge and heavy drinking were lower in 2011 than they were in 2010 (19.7% and 6.7%).

    figure 3.7

    Source: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2011SummNatFindDetTables/Index.aspx

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