State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Health from the
2005-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health

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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. Past month alcohol use is the consumption of at least one drink during the past 30 days (includes binge use). Binge alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the 30 days prior to the survey. A "drink" is defined as a can or bottle of beer, a glass of wine or a wine cooler, a shot of liquor, or a mixed drink with liquor in it. Respondents are asked to exclude occasions when only a sip or two is consumed from a drink. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States. Nationally, about half (51.4 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current (past month) drinkers of alcohol in 2005-2006 (Table  B.9). This figure was similar to the rate in 2004-2005 (51.1 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 use and binge alcohol use for persons aged 12 to 20 are presented in this report to provide information on underage drinking at the State level. Nationally, neither of these underage drinking measures changed significantly between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006; however, there were some changes at the State level (Table  C.12).

3.1 Alcohol

In 2005-2006, the rate of past month alcohol use in States among all persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 32.4 percent in Utah to a high of 63.1 percent in Wisconsin (Table  B.9). The highest rates of past month alcohol use occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, with Rhode Island having the highest rate (74.2 percent). The following States ranked in the top fifth for all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) and among persons 12 or older: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.1 to 3.4).

Six States showed significant increases from 2004-2005 to 2005-2006 in the percentage of all persons aged 12 or older who used alcohol in the past month: Arkansas (39.6 to 42.6 percent), Maine (51.5 to 54.8 percent), Michigan (54.2 to 56.2 percent), Nevada (48.2 to 52.0 percent), Utah (30.1 to 32.4), and Wyoming (53.0 to 56.4 percent) (Table  C.9). Only one State, Illinois, showed a significant decrease in past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older, from 54.2 to 52.5 percent. Alcohol use decreased nationally among youths aged 12 to 17 from 17.1 to 16.6 percent. Four States showed decreases in this age group: California (16.2 to 14.7 percent), Indiana (17.1 to 14.6 percent), South Dakota (22.0 to 18.4 percent), and Wisconsin (22.6 to 19.3 percent).

Past month use of alcohol among persons aged 12 to 20 (underage use of alcohol) ranged from a low of 21.5 percent in Utah to a high of 38.3 percent in Vermont (Table  B.12). Although there was no significant change at the national level in underage alcohol use between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, seven States displayed changes (Table  C.12). Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin had significant decreases. Arkansas, Nevada, and Vermont had significant increases.

3.2 Binge Alcohol Use

Nationally, almost a quarter (22.8 percent) of all persons aged 12 or older participated in binge use of alcohol in the past month in 2005-2006 (Table  B.10). This rate remained relatively unchanged from 22.7 percent in 2004-2005 (Table  C.10). In 2005-2006, the past month rate of binge use of alcohol among persons aged 12 or older ranged from 17.4 percent in Utah to 30.3 percent in North Dakota. Only three States were ranked in the top fifth in all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) and among persons 12 or older: Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.5 to 3.8).

The rate of binge alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 decreased from 10.5 percent in 2004-2005 to 10.1 percent in 2005-2006; however, the rates among young adults aged 18 to 25 and persons 26 or older did not change (Table  C.10). Only a few States showed changes during this period, including both increases and decreases. The highest rates of binge use of alcohol occurred among young adults aged 18 to 25. North Dakota (56.5 percent) had the highest rate in this age group, almost double the highest rate among persons aged 26 or older (Wisconsin at 27.4 percent) and almost 4 times the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (Montana at 15.3 percent) (Table  B.10).

Georgia (15.2 percent) had the lowest rate for past month underage (aged 12 to 20) binge use of alcohol, and North Dakota had the highest rate for this measure, 28.5 percent (Table  B.12). Nine 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: Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming (Figures 3.13 and 3.14).

Although there was no change at the national level, five States displayed changes between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 for underage binge use of alcohol. Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin showed decreases, whereas Arkansas and Vermont showed increases (Table  C.12).

3.3 Perceptions of Risk of Binge Alcohol Use

In 2005-2006, 41.7 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 and inversely related to their actual rates of binge drinking at the State level in 2005-2006. Seven of the ten States (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin) with the highest rates of binge use of alcohol in 2005-2006 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, Wisconsin had the lowest percentage (32.9 percent) perceiving a great risk of drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, while New Mexico had the highest rate at 47.6 percent (Table  B.11).

Between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, there was an increase among persons aged 12 or older in the perception of the risk of binge drinking from 41.2 to 41.7 percent (Table  C.11). Only Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin showed changes among the States. Wisconsin showed an increase in the perception of risk of binge drinking among the 12 or older age group and the 18 to 25 age group (from 29.8 to 32.9 percent and from 20.4 to 24.3 percent, respectively). Florida and Pennsylvania indicated significant increases in the 18 to 25 age group (from 36.5 to 38.6 percent and 25.6 to 27.7 percent, respectively).

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

Figure 3.1 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.2

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.3

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.4

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.5

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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

Figure 3.6 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.6

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.7

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.8

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.9

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.10

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.11

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.12

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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Figure 3.13 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.13

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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 2005 and 2006 NSDUHs

Figure 3.14

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006.

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This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.