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2004 State Estimates of Substance Use
(from the 2003-2004 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health)

bulletNational data      bulletState level data       bulletMetropolitan and other subState area data

3. Alcohol Use

A number of measures of alcohol use are available from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). This report discusses past month alcohol use, past month binge alcohol use, and the perceived risk of binge alcohol use. Binge alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the 30 days prior to the survey. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States. Nationally, about half (50.2 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current (past month) drinkers of alcohol in 2003-2004. This figure is similar to the 2002-2003 estimate (50.5 percent) (Table  C.9).

In addition to information on alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older and each of the three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older), estimates of past month alcohol and binge alcohol use for persons aged 12 to 20 are presented in this report to provide new information on underage drinking at the State level. Nationally, neither of these underage drinking measures changed significantly between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004; however, there were some changes seen at the State level.

3.1 Alcohol

In 2003-2004, the rate of past month alcohol use in States among all persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 29.3 percent in Utah to a high of 62.1 percent in Wisconsin. The highest rates of past month alcohol use occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, with North Dakota having the highest rate (75.6 percent) (Table  B.9). The following States ranked in the top fifth for all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older): Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.2 to 3.4).

Although the use of alcohol at the national level remained unchanged between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, four States showed significant changes among the 12 or older population. Three States showed significant decreases: Missouri (from 53.2 to 49.8 percent), Nevada (from 50.7 to 47.0 percent), and New Jersey (from 57.7 to 53.3 percent) (Table  C.9). These decreases were primarily driven by significant decreases among the 26 or older age group. Wisconsin had the only significant increase among persons aged 12 or older, from 57.9 to 62.1 percent. Wisconsin's overall increase in past month use of alcohol reflected similar significant increases in every age group: from 21.4 to 24.4 percent among youths aged 12 to 17, from 72.1 to 75.5 percent among young adults 18 to 25, and from 60.5 to 64.8 percent in the 26 or older population. There were a few other significant State changes among the 12 to 17 and 18 to 25 age groups. The overall significant increase of 0.9 percent in past month alcohol use among youths in the West region was driven primarily by a significant increase among youths in California—from 15.3 to 16.8 percent.

With respect to underage drinking, past month use of alcohol ranged from a low of 18.6 percent in Utah to a high of 42.7 percent in North Dakota (Table  B.12). Although there was no change at the national level in underage alcohol use between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 (28.9 percent), four States displayed changes (Table  C.12). California increased from 24.7 percent in 2002-2003 to 26.3 percent in 2003-2004, and Wisconsin increased from 34.7 to 38.3 percent during the same period. Michigan and South Carolina both had decreases: from 31.8 to 30.2 percent and from 27.3 to 24.1 percent, respectively.

3.2 Binge Alcohol Use

Nationally, almost a quarter (22.7 percent) of all persons aged 12 or older participated in binge use of alcohol in the past month in 2003-2004 (Table  B.10). During that period, the past month rate of binge use of alcohol among persons aged 12 or older ranged from 15.0 percent in Utah to 31.8 percent in North Dakota. Six States were ranked in the top fifth in all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older): Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.6 to 3.8).

The national rate in 2003-2004 (22.7 percent) was similar to the rate in 2002-2003 (22.8 percent) (Table  C.10). Only Kansas and Pennsylvania showed significant increases in binge alcohol use in the 12 or older population, from 21.7 to 24.3 percent and from 22.8 to 24.7 percent, respectively. The Pennsylvania increase was largely due to the increase in binge alcohol use among persons aged 26 or older, from 20.6 to 22.7 percent. Six States showed significant changes among the 18 to 25 age group, and four of the six showed increases: Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Ohio and Texas showed significant decreases among that age group. No State had a significant increase among youths aged 12 to 17, although there was an increase in the West region as a whole from 10.2 to 11.0 percent.

The lowest State estimate for past month underage binge use of alcohol was 13.1 percent in Tennessee. North Dakota had the highest rate for this measure, 32.3 percent (Table  B.12). Eight of the States that ranked in the highest fifth for past month underage use of alcohol also ranked in the highest fifth for past month underage binge use of alcohol: Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.13 and 3.14).

Although there was no change at the national level, five States showed changes between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 for underage binge use of alcohol. Two States had increases: Iowa went from 24.7 to 27.7 percent, and Oklahoma went from 19.1 to 21.5 percent (Table  C.12). Three States had decreases: North Carolina (from 18.0 to 15.9 percent), South Carolina (from 18.1 to 15.9 percent), and Tennessee (from 16.0 to 13.1 percent).

3.3 Perceptions of Risk of Binge Alcohol Use

In 2003-2004, 41.3 percent of all persons aged 12 or older perceived a great risk of binge drinking (Table  B.11). People's perceptions of the risk of binge drinking were moderately related to their actual rates of binge drinking at the State level in 2003-2004. Seven of the ten States (Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) with the highest rates of binge use of alcohol in 2003-2004 among persons 12 or older also were States with the lowest perceived risk of binge drinking for the population aged 12 or older (Figures 3.5 and 3.9). Among persons aged 12 or older, New Hampshire had the lowest percentage (32.3 percent) perceiving a great risk of drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, while Mississippi had the highest rate at 49.2 percent (Table s B.11). Among youths aged 12 to 17, six of the States in the lowest fifth of perceived risk of binge use of alcohol also had rates of binge drinking in the highest fifth of all States (Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) (Figures 3.6 and 3.10).

Nationally, there was a significant decline in the percentage of persons aged 12 or older reporting a great risk in binge alcohol use between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 (from 42.0 to 41.3 percent) (Table  C.11). The decrease was accompanied by significant decreases among the 18 to 25 age group (from 32.6 to 31.7 percent), the 26 or older age group (from 44.2 to 43.4 percent), and the 12 to 17 age group in the Midwest region (from 37.3 to 36.1 percent). The decreases were evident among persons aged 12 or older in five States: Illinois (from 40.7 to 38.8 percent), Michigan (from 39.7 to 37.5 percent), Utah (from 50.9 to 46.9 percent), West Virginia (from 42.9 to 39.6 percent), and Wisconsin (from 36.6 to 33.3 percent).

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Figure 3.1 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.2 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.2

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.3 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.3

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.4 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.4

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.5 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.5

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.6 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.6

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.7 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.7

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.8 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.8

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.9 Perceptions of Great Risk of Having Five or More Drinks of an Alcoholic Beverage Once or Twice a Week among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.9

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.10 Perceptions of Great Risk of Having Five or More Drinks of an Alcoholic Beverage Once or Twice a Week among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.10

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.11 Perceptions of Great Risk of Having Five or More Drinks of an Alcoholic Beverage Once or Twice a Week among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.11

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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Figure 3.12 Perceptions of Great Risk of Having Five or More Drinks of an Alcoholic Beverage Once or Twice a Week among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.12

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

Below is a map, click here for the text describing this map.

Figure 3.13 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.13

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

Below is a map, click here for the text describing this map.

Figure 3.14 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2003 and 2004 NSDUHs

Figure 3.14

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 and 2004.

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This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.