Prevalence of "Heavy" Alcohol Use in the US

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"An estimated 16.7 million people aged 12 or older in 2017 who were heavy alcohol users in the past month (Figure 5), which represents 6.1 percent of the population aged 12 or older (Figure 7). In 2017, 174,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 were current heavy drinkers. Stated another way, about 1 out of 140 adolescents (0.7 percent) engaged in binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days. About 1 out of every 10 young adults aged 18 to 25 (9.6 percent) were current heavy alcohol drinkers. This percentage corresponds to 3.3 million young adults who engaged in heavy drinking in the past month. An estimated 6.2 percent of adults aged 26 or older in 2017 were current heavy drinkers. This percentage corresponds to about 13.2 million adults aged 26 or older who engaged in heavy drinking in the past month."

Note: According to SAMHSA, "Consistent with federal definitions21 and other federal data collections, the NSDUH definition for binge alcohol use since 2015 differs for males and females. Binge drinking for males is defined as drinking five or more drinks22 on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days, which is unchanged from the threshold prior to 2015. Since 2015, binge alcohol use for females has been defined as drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days based on the thresholds that were described previously for males and females.

"Any alcohol use, binge drinking, and heavy drinking are not mutually exclusive categories of use; heavy use is included in estimates of binge and current use, and binge use is included in estimates of current use (Figure 5). Because of the 2015 changes to the definition of binge alcohol use in NSDUH, estimates of past month binge and heavy alcohol use in 2017 are not comparable with estimates prior to 2015. Therefore, estimates of binge and heavy alcohol use are presented in this report only for 2017.23"

Source: 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
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