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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, 2014

Map of the United States. See description below for detailed description.

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, 2014

Map of the United States. See description below for detailed description.

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.

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