1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
"Binge" and Heavy Alcohol Use (Table 7.7 and 7.8)
Rates of "binge" drinking varied little by population density or region. The only significant difference was that among those aged 26 to 34, "binge" drinking was significantly higher among those in small metropolitan areas (25%) compared with those in nonmetropolitan areas (20%). Overall and for young adults aged 18 to 25, "binge" drinking was more prevalent in the North Central region than in all of the other regions.
Rates of "binge" drinking also varied little by educational attainment. The only significant differences were that among the total population, those with some college were more likely than those with less than a high school education to report "binge" drinking, and among those aged 18 to 25, those with some college education were more likely to report such behaviors as those with a high school diploma or less. In the total population, rates of "binge" drinking differed significantly across all categories of current employment, with the exception of the comparison between those employed full-time and those who were unemployed.
Heavy Alcohol Use. Another measure of the quantity and frequency of potentially problematic alcohol use, called "heavy alcohol use," is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past month. Using alcohol at or in excess of this level for an extended period is likely to be accompanied or followed by many serious negative consequences. Persons classified as heavy alcohol usersaccording to this measure also were included among the category of "binge" drinkers, although not all "binge" drinkers qualify as heavy drinkers.
Table 7.8 indicates that the prevalence of heavy drinking was about the same for youths aged 12 to 17 and older adults older than 34 (3% and 4%, respectively) and significantly below the rates among young adults aged 18 to 25 (11%) and middle adults aged 26 to 34 (7%). Overall and for every age group, males were more likely than females to report heavy drinking. For the total sample and the two youngest age groups, whites and Hispanics were more likely to report heavy drinking than were blacks; additionally among young adults aged 18 to 25, whites reported significantly higher rates of heavy drinking than Hispanics.
Rates of heavy alcohol use varied little among the remaining demographic categories. In the 12 to 17 age group, those in large metropolitan areas were more likely than those in nonmetropolitan areas to report heavy alcohol use. Among those aged 18 to 25, residents of the North Central region were more likely than residents of the Northeast to report such use. Overall, those with less than a high school education were more likely than high school graduates to report heavy alcohol use; among 18 to 25 year olds, college graduates were less likely to report such use than were those with some college and those with less than a high school education. Among middle adults aged 26 to 34, those who had not completed high school were more likely than those with some college to report heavy drinking.
This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.