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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 (51.0 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being past month drinkers of alcohol in 2006-2007 (Table B.9). This figure was similar to the rate in 2005-2006 (51.4 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 2005-2006 and 2006-2007; however, there were some changes at the State level (Table C.12).

3.1 Alcohol

In 2006-2007, the rate of past month alcohol use in States among all persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 30.9 percent in Utah to a high of 63.1 percent in Rhode Island (Table B.9). The highest rates of past month alcohol use occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, with North Dakota having the highest rate (75.7 percent). Six 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, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.1 to 3.4). Among persons 12 or older, 8 of the 10 States that were ranked in the bottom fifth for past month alcohol use were in the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia) (Figure 3.1).

Two States showed significant increases from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007 in the percentage of all persons aged 12 or older who used alcohol in the past month: Delaware and Massachusetts (Table C.9). Four States showed a significant decrease in past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, and Texas. Four States showed decreases in past month alcohol use in the 12 to 17 year old age group: Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas. No States showed significant increases in alcohol use among the 12 to 17 year olds.

Past month use of alcohol among persons aged 12 to 20 (underage use of alcohol) ranged from a low of 17.3 percent in Utah to a high of 40.0 percent in North Dakota (Table B.12). Although there was no significant change at the national level in underage alcohol use between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, 10 States displayed changes (Table C.12): Maine, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah had significant decreases. The District of Columbia, Maryland, North Dakota, and Washington had significant increases.

3.2 Binge Alcohol Use

Nationally, almost a quarter (23.2 percent) of all persons aged 12 or older participated in binge use of alcohol in the past month in 2006-2007 (Table B.10). In 2006-2007, the past month rate of binge use of alcohol among persons aged 12 or older ranged from 15.6 percent in Utah to 32.0 percent in North Dakota. Five 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: Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming (Figures 3.5 to 3.8). The highest rates of binge use of alcohol occurred among young adults aged 18 to 25. North Dakota (58.1 percent) had the highest rate in this age group, more than double the highest rate among persons aged 26 or older (North Dakota at 28.7 percent) and more than 4 times the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (Connecticut at 13.2 percent) (Table B.10).

Four States showed significant changes in binge alcohol use between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 among persons 12 or older. Of these, Delaware was the only State to have a significant increase, whereas Idaho, Nebraska, and Texas had declines (Table C.10).

Utah (13.3 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 (29.5 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: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming (Figures 3.13 and 3.14). Nationally, the rate of underage binge use of alcohol was 18.8 percent.

Although there was no change at the national level, four States displayed changes between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 for underage binge use of alcohol. Texas and Utah showed decreases, whereas Connecticut and the District of Columbia showed increases (Table C.12).

3.3 Perceptions of Risk of Binge Alcohol Use

In 2006-2007, 42.1 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 2006-2007. Seven of the 10 States (Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) with the highest rates of binge use of alcohol in 2006-2007 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 (33.2 percent) perceiving a great risk of drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, while Utah had the highest rate at 49.5 percent (Table B.11).

Between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, there was an increase in the Northeast region among young adults aged 18 to 25 in the perception of the risk of binge drinking from 29.7 to 30.9 percent (Table C.11). Only Colorado (decrease from 29.8 to 25.8 percent), Pennsylvania (increase from 27.7 to 30.2 percent), and Texas (increase from 34.7 to 37.2 percent) showed changes among the States in that age group.

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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 3.2 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.2

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.3

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.4

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.5

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 3.6 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.6

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.7

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.8

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.9

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.10

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.11

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.12

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.13

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 3.14

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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