Half of all Americans age 12 or older – 119 persons in all – can be classified as current drinkers of alcohol, the most-recent nationwide study on drug use and health indicates.
Half of all Americans age 12 or older – 119 persons
in all – can be classified as current drinkers of alcohol, the
most-recent nationwide study on drug use and health indicates.
About 50.1 percent of Americans currently use
alcohol, the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows. The
survey was based on 136,000 interviews conducted in 2002 and 2003. The
survey results recently were reported by the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services.
For the study, a current user of alcohol is defined
as one who has had at least one drink in the previous 30 days.
Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past 30 days.
In turn, heavy drinking is defined as having five or
more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days in the
past 30 days.
The findings of the national survey show the extent of drug and alcohol use across the nation.
In alcohol-related findings, it indicates:
• About 54 million (22.6 percent) of Americans age
12 or older had participated in binge drinking at least once in the 30
days prior to being asked.
• About 16.1 million Americans (6.8 percent) were identified as heavy drinkers, similar to 2002 figures.
• The highest prevalence of binge and heavy drinking
in 2003 was among young adult age 18-25. Of that age group, 41.6
percent were identified as binge drinkers, while 15.1 percent were
classified as heavy drinkers.
• About 10.9 million persons age 12-20 reported
drinking alcohol in the month prior to the survey, representing 29
percent of that age group. Nearly 7.2 million (19.2 percent) from this
age group were binge drinkers, while 2.3 million (6.1 percent) were
heavy drinkers. The figures were virtually unchanged from the 2002
• An estimated 13.6 percent of persons age 12 and
older indicated that they had driven under the influence of alcohol at
least once in the 12 months prior to the survey. The total represents a
decrease from the 14.2 percent reported in 2002 – but it still
translated to some 32.3 million people driving under the influence of
alcohol during the year.
• Driving under the influence rates varied by age
groups. About 9.7 percent of persons age 16-17 had driven under the
influence in the previous 12 months, compared to 20.1 percent of
persons age 18-20 and 28.7 percent of persons age 21-25. After age 25,
the rates of driving under the influence declined with increasing age.
By age 30-34, the rate had dropped to 19.1 percent. By age 40-44, the
rate was 17 percent, compared to 11.9 percent at age 50-54 and 4.1
percent at age 60-64.
• Males were almost twice as likely as females –
18.2 percent to 9.3 percent – to have driven under the influence of
alcohol in the previous 12 months.
• Among young people, alcohol use increased with
age. For instance, 2.9 percent of persons age 12 had taken at least one
drink in the month prior to the survey. By age 21-22, that figure had
risen to 70 percent.
• Among older Americans, drinking decreased with
age. Overall, 61.7 percent of persons age 26-29 were current users,
while the total dropped to 34.4 percent among persons age 60-64.
• Among youth age 12-17, 17.7 percent had used
alcohol in the month prior to the survey. Of all young people, 10.6
percent were binge drinkers, whole 2.6 percent were heavy drinkers –
both figures similar to 2002.
• Among pregnant women age 15-44, 9.8 percent had
used alcohol in the previous month, while 4.1 percent could be
classified as binge drinkers. The totals were significantly lower than
those reported by non-pregnant women of the same age group. Among the
latter group, 53 percent of the women had used alcohol in the previous
month, while 23.2 percent were identified as binge drinkers.
• College students age 18-22 proved more likely to
use alcohol and be identified as binge and heavy drinkers than their
non-college counterparts of the same age. For instance, 64.9 percent of
collegians had used alcohol in the previous month, compared to 54.6
percent of non-collegians. Binge drinking for college students stood at
43.5 percent, compared to 38.7 percent. The heavy drinking for
collegians was 17.6 percent, compared to 13.4 percent.