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Excessive drinking

  • Excessive alcohol use, either in the form of binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women) or heavy drinking (drinking 15 or more drinks per week for men, or 8 or more drinks per week for women), is associated with an increased risk of many health problems, such as liver disease and unintentional injuries.
  • According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, in 2013 more than half of the U.S. adult population drank alcohol in the past 30 days. Approximately 17% of the adult population reported binge drinking, and 6% of the adult population reported heavy drinking.
  • According to the ARDI application, from 2006–2010, excessive alcohol use was responsible for an annual average of  88,000 deaths, including 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years, and 2.5 million years of potential life lost.  More than half of these deaths and three-quarters of the years of potential life lost were due to binge drinking.
  • Alcohol use poses additional problems for underage drinkers and pregnant women.

 

Prevalence of Binge Drinking Among Adults, 2015

Percentage of binge drinking among adults, 2015. Link to description provided below.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census standard population. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for a woman or 5 or more drinks for a man on an occasion during the past 30 days.

[Notes and a text description of this graph is also available.]

Intensity* of Binge Drinking Among Adults, 2015

Intensity of binge drinking among adults, 2015. Link to description provided below.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

*Intensity is defined as the average largest number of drinks consumed by binge drinkers on any occasion in the past month.

Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census standard population. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for a woman or 5 or more drinks for a man on an occasion during the past 30 days.

[Notes and a text description of this graph is also available.]

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Economic costs

  • Excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $249 billion in 2010. This amounts to about $2.05 per drink, or about $807 per person.
  • The costs due to excessive drinking largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), health care expenses (11%), and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.
  • Excessive alcohol use cost states and DC a median of $3.5 billion in 2010, ranging from $488 million in North Dakota to $35 billion in California.
  • Binge drinking, defined as consuming 4 or more drinks per occasion for women or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men, was responsible for about three-quarters (77%) of the cost of excessive alcohol use in all states and DC.
  • About $2 of every $5 of the economic costs of excessive alcohol use were paid by federal, state, and local governments.

Source: Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption. Am J Prev Med 2015; 49(5):e73–e79.

[A table listing each state's total cost, cost per capita, and cost per drink is available here.] 

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