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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 (51.8 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being past month drinkers of alcohol in 2008-2009 (see Table B.9 in Appendix B). This number was similar to the rate in 2007-2008 (51.4 percent) (see Table C.9 in Appendix C).

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, both of these underage drinking measures remained unchanged between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 (Table C.12).

3.1 Alcohol Use

In 2008-2009, the rate of past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 28.1 percent in Utah to a high of 64.0 percent in New Hampshire (Table B.9). The highest rates of past month alcohol use occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, with New Hampshire having the highest rate (75.1 percent). Five 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: Colorado, New Hampshire, 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 from the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) (Figure 3.1).

Five States showed increases from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 in the percentage of persons aged 12 or older who used alcohol in the past month: Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma (Table C.9). Virginia was the only State with a decrease in past month alcohol use among persons aged 12 or older (from 53.6 to 50.8 percent). Four States showed decreases in past month alcohol use in the 12 to 17 year old age group: Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Montana was the only State with an increase (from 18.7 to 21.5 percent) in past month alcohol use among youths. A decrease also was observed in the Midwest region and in the national rate among youths.

Past month use of alcohol among persons aged 12 to 20 (underage use of alcohol) ranged from a low of 14.2 percent in Utah to a high of 36.6 percent in Vermont (Table B.12) in 2008-2009. Six States displayed decreases in alcohol use in this age group from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009: Arizona, District of Columbia, Michigan, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Washington. A decrease also was seen in the Midwest region (from 28.5 to 27.6 percent). Idaho and Mississippi showed increases (Table C.12).

3.2 Binge Alcohol Use

Nationally, almost a quarter (23.5 percent) of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge use of alcohol in the past month in 2008-2009 (Table B.10). In 2008-2009, past month binge use of alcohol among persons aged 12 or older ranged from 14.1 percent in Utah to 29.8 percent in North Dakota. 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: Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.5 to 3.8). The highest rates of binge use of alcohol occurred among young adults aged 18 to 25. North Dakota (53.5 percent) had the highest rate in this age group, almost double the highest rate among persons aged 26 or older (South Dakota at 28.3 percent) and almost 4 times the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (Montana at 13.8 percent) (Table B.10).

Two States showed decreases in binge alcohol use between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 among persons 12 or older: Minnesota (from 30.1 to 26.9 percent) and North Dakota (from 32.6 to 29.8 percent) (Table C.10). The national rate of binge alcohol use decreased among youths aged 12 to 17 (from 9.3 to 8.8 percent), and decreases also were observed in the Midwest and South regions for this age group.

In 2008-2009, Utah (11.5 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 (26.4 percent) (Table B.12). Of the 10 States that ranked in the highest fifth for past month underage use of alcohol, 8 States also ranked in the highest fifth for past month underage binge use of alcohol: Delaware, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont (Figures 3.13 and 3.14). Five States showed decreases in underage binge use of alcohol: District of Columbia, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Vermont (Table C.12).

3.3 Perceptions of Risk of Binge Alcohol Use

In 2008-2009, 41.9 percent of 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 2008-2009. Of the 10 States with the highest rates of binge use of alcohol in 2008-2009 among persons 12 or older, 5 States also had the lowest perceived risk of binge drinking for the population aged 12 or older: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Figures 3.5 and 3.9). Among persons aged 12 or older, South Dakota had the lowest percentage (34.6 percent) perceiving a great risk of drinking five or more drinks of alcohol on a single occasion, while Utah had the highest rate at 49.7 percent (Table B.11).

Between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 a decrease in perception of risk of binge drinking among persons 12 or older was seen in Tennessee (from 45.4 to 42.6 percent), and increases were seen in Alaska (from 38.9 to 41.3 percent) and in New Hampshire (from 32.9 to 35.7 percent) (Table C.11). Among youths aged 12 to 17, decreases were seen in New Jersey and Utah, and increases were seen in Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

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Figure 3.1 Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.1

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.2

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.3

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.4

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.5

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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Figure 3.6 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.6

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.7

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.8

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.9

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.10

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.11

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.12

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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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 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.13

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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Figure 3.14 Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2008 and 2009 NSDUHs

Figure 3.14

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2008 and 2009.

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