1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Underage Alcohol Use
Current use - At least one drink
in the past month (includes binge and heavy use).
Binge use - Five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past month (includes heavy use).
Heavy use - Five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days in the past month.
° In 1998, approximately 113 million persons age 12 and over were current alcohol users, which was about 52 percent of the total population age 12 and older. About 33 million persons (15.7 percent) engaged in binge drinking, and about 12.4 million Americans (5.9 percent of the population) were heavy drinkers.
° Alcohol usage rates among those 12 years and older did not change between 1997 and 1998. This was true for all three measures of drinking.
° The level of alcohol use was strongly associated with illicit drug use in 1998, as in prior years. Of the 12.4 million heavy drinkers, 29.5 percent (3.7 million people) were current illicit drug users. Among the 20.5 million binge (but not heavy) drinkers, 17.8 percent (3.7 million) were illicit drug users. Other drinkers (i.e., past month but not binge) had a rate of 5.5 percent (4.4 million) for illicit drug use, while only 1.7 percent (1.8 million) of nondrinkers were illicit drug users.
° The rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use among the population age 12-20 years did not change significantly between 1994 and 1998. Rates in 1998 were 30.6 percent, 15.2 percent, and 6.9 percent, respectively, for current, binge, and heavy use.
° Among youths age 12-20, the rates of alcohol use were highest among those age 18-20, among whites, males, and among those living in the North Central region. The lowest rates of use were among blacks, females, and youths living in large metropolitan areas. These patterns held for all three measures of alcohol use (Figure 11).
° Among youths age 12-17, the rate of current alcohol use was about 50 percent in 1979, fell to about 21 percent in 1992, and has remained relatively stable since then. Rates of binge and heavy alcohol use in this age group have also remained relatively stable since 1994.
° The rates of binge and heavy alcohol use among young adults age 18-25 were significantly higher in 1998 than in 1997, but similar in 1998 to the rates observed in 1996. Binge rates were 32.0 percent, 28.0 percent, and 31.7 percent in 1996, 1997, and 1998, respectively. Similarly, heavy drinking rates were 12.9, 11.1, and 13.8 percent in those three years.
° The rate of past month alcohol use was 54 percent in large metropolitan areas, 53 percent in small metropolitan areas, but only 45 percent in nonmetropolitan areas. The patterns were somewhat different for binge and heavy use. Binge and heavy use rates were 14.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, in large metropolitan areas, 16.8 and 6.8 percent in small metropolitan areas, and 15.3 and 6.0 percent in nonmetropolitan areas.
° The rate of past month alcohol use for 1997-98 was 42 percent in rural nonmetropolitan areas and 53 percent in non-rural areas. Rates of binge and heavy alcohol use in rural areas, however, were similar to the rates in non-rural areas. Among youths age 12-17, rates were similar in rural and non-rural areas for any use, binge use, and heavy use.
This page was last updated on June 01, 2008.