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2005 State Estimates of Substance Use & Mental 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. 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 hours of each other) 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 (51.1 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current (past month) drinkers of alcohol in 2004-2005 (Table  B.9). This figure was significantly lower in 2003-2004 (50.2 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 2003-2004 and 2004-2005; however, there were some changes at the State level.

3.1 Alcohol

In 2004-2005, the rate of past month alcohol use in States among all persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 30.1 percent in Utah to a high of 65.3 percent in Wisconsin (Table  B.9). The highest rates of past month alcohol use occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, with Wisconsin having the highest rate (75.7 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, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.1 to 3.4).

Seven States showed significant increases in past month alcohol use between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 among persons 12 or older, contributing to the national increase: Alabama (39.2 to 42.1 percent), Arizona (49.7 to 55.4 percent), Kansas (48.5 to 51.8 percent), Minnesota (57.6 to 61.0 percent), Tennessee (37.6 to 40.9 percent), Texas (46.8 to 48.6 percent) and Wisconsin (62.1 to 65.3 percent) (Table  C.9). The national increase was fueled largely by increases in past month alcohol use rates in the 26 or older population (from 52.8 percent in 2003-2004 to 54.0 percent in 2004-2005). Contrary to these increases, alcohol use decreased slightly among youths aged 12 to 17 from 17.7 percent in 2003-2004 to 17.1 percent in 2004-2005.

With respect to underage drinking, past month use of alcohol ranged from a low of 21.3 percent in Utah to a high of 39.5 percent in Wisconsin (Table  B.12). Although there was no significant change at the national level in underage alcohol use between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, eight States displayed changes (Table  C.12). Hawaii, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington had significant decreases. Texas and Utah had significant increases.

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 2004-2005 (Table  B.10). During that period, the past month rate of binge use of alcohol among persons aged 12 or older ranged from 16.3 percent in Utah to 31.5 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: Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.5 to 3.8).

The national rate of past month binge alcohol use in 2004-2005 (22.7 percent) remained the same as the rate in 2003-2004 (Table  C.10), and the rates among youths aged 12 to 17, young adults aged 18 to 25, and persons aged 26 or older did not change either. Only a few States showed changes during this period, including both increases and decreases. The highest rates of binge use of alcohol occurred among persons aged 18 to 25. North Dakota (58.1 percent) had the highest rate in this age group, almost double the highest rate among persons aged 26 or older and almost 4 times the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (Table  B.10).

The lowest State estimate for past month underage (aged 12 to 20) binge use of alcohol was 14.3 percent in Tennessee. 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: Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, (Figures 3.13 and 3.14).

Although there was no change at the national level, eight States indicated changes between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 for underage binge use of alcohol. Illinois, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington showed decreases, whereas Texas and Utah showed increases (Table  C.12).

3.3 Perceptions of Risk of Binge Alcohol Use

In 2004-2005, 41.2 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 2004-2005. Seven of the ten States (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) with the highest rates of binge use of alcohol in 2004-2005 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 (29.8 percent) perceiving a great risk of drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, while Mississippi had the highest rate at 47.7 percent (Table  B.11).

Between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, there were no changes in the percentage of persons reporting a great risk in binge alcohol use, either nationally or in the four census regions in any of the age groups (Table  C.11). Only Wisconsin and Wyoming showed changes. Wisconsin indicated decreases in the 12 or older age group and in the 26 or older age group (from 33.3 to 29.8 percent and from 35.5 to 31.3 percent, respectively). Wyoming indicated a significant increase in the 12 or older age group (from 34.9 to 38.2 percent).

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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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

Figure 3.2 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.2

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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

Figure 3.3 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.3

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.4

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.5

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.6

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.7

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.8

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.9

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.10

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.11

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.12

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.13

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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 2004 and 2005 NSDUHs

Figure 3.14

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004 and 2005.

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This page was last updated on December 23, 2008.