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Alcohol Statistics

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According to a survey of adults 18 and over, 25% call themselves lifetime abstainers, 14% were former drinkers and 60.8% consider themselves current drinkers, with 13% being infrequent drinkers and 47% being regular drinkers. Of the current drinkers, 70% consider themselves light drinkers in the past year, 23% consider themselves moderate drinkers, and 7% consider themselves heavier drinkers. When they were asked how many days in the past year they consumed more than five drinks, 68% said that there were no days, 32% said that there was at least one day with 14% admitting to twelve or more days with five or more drinks. Statistics show that the results are similar for geographic regions differing from one-fourth to one-third of drinkers that had at least one day of five or more drinks.1

Reports put out by the National Center for Health Statistics from 2005 say that 17.6% of adolescents between the ages of 12-17 used alcohol in the past month, 11.1% reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks at a time) and 2.6% reported heavy alcohol use. Taking a closer look at binge drinking by age group shows that 28.1% of seniors report binging in the last two weeks compared with 21% of tenth graders and 10.5% of eighth graders. Males are slightly higher in the older categories and close to even for eighth graders. White adolescents have a higher percentage of binge drinking than African Americans of those surveyed with the gap increasing as the age increases.1

When high school drinkers were broken down by age group, 47% of seniors admitted to using alcohol in the past month. There was a higher percentage of males than females, 50.7% to 43.3% and there was a significant disparity between white (52.3%) seniors and African American seniors (29%) in this category. In tenth-graders, about a third of both male and female students used alcohol in the past month. There continued to be a gap between white and African American students with 37% to 23%, respectively, who drank in the past month. In eighth-graders, about 17% of students used alcohol in the past month, with female consumption (17.9%) being slightly higher than male consumption (16.2%). The gap between races was narrower with white eighth graders (17.9%) drinking more than African American eighth graders (14.9%).1

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) took a look at the relationship between Emergency Department (ED) visits and drugs and alcohol. For the third and fourth quarters of 2003, DAWN estimates 627,923 drug-related ED visits nationwide. Overall, drug-related ED visits averaged 1.7 drugs per visit, including illicit drugs and inhalants, alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and nonpharmaceutical inhalants. SAMHSA estimates 305,731 drug-related ED visits involved alcohol or a major illicit drug; this is nearly half (49 percent) of all drug-related ED visits.2


  1. National Center for Health Statistics Health, United States, 2006 With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans Hyattsville, MD: 2006
  2. NIDA InfoFacts: Hospital Visits, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

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