Who drinks alcohol in the U.S.?
Who drinks in the U.S.? The National Survey of Drug Use and Health sets out to answer this question. In its most recent publication published in 2014, around 71% of people surveyed reported that they drank in the past year, while about 57% reported that they drank within the month prior to being surveyed. But does this data necessarily indicate problem drinking?
No, but other data does.
About 1 in 17 Americans abuse alcohol in the United States. As a result, more than 10% of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study. Additionally, alcohol misuse problems cost the United States $249 BILLION; three-quarters of which are related to binge drinking.
Demographics of alcohol use
AGE – In 2014, 87.6% of people aged 18+ reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.
- 2.1 % of persons aged 12-13
- 9.5 % of persons aged 14-15
- 22.7 % of 16-17 year olds (Teen Drinking)
- 43.8 % of those aged 18-20
- 69.3 % of 21-25 year olds
The rate of current alcohol use is 59.6 % among young adults in the age bracket of 18 to 25. The rate of binge drinking is 37.9 % for people of the same age group. While heavy alcohol use was reported by 11.3 % of young adults.
GENDER – Drinking, per se, and high-volume drinking are consistently more prevalent among men than among women. Among drinkers, the prevalence of high-frequency drinking is consistently greatest in the oldest age group, particularly among men.
- 57% males and 47% females aged 12+
- 62% male and 57% of female young adults aged 18 to 25 (44% of males and 31% of females reported binge drinking)
- 62.2 % males and 50% of females aged 26+ (31% of males and 15% of females reported binge drinking)
RACE/ETHNICITY – Among persons aged 12+, Non-Hispanic Whites were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to report current use of alcohol (58%). The rates were:
- 47.4 % of persons reporting two or more races
- 43.6 % Non-Hispanic Black
- 43.0 % Hispanic
- 38.4 % Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders
- 37.3 % American Indians or Alaska Natives
- 34.5 % Asian
EDUCATION – Among adults aged 18 or older, the rate of alcohol use, as well as the rates of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use varied by level of education i.e. increase with increasing levels of education.
- 36.5 % of people with less than a high school education were current drinkers
- 69.2 % of college graduates were current drinkers
- 23.1% of graduated college students are binge drinking
- 26.4 % have some college education but no degree
Heavy alcohol users:
- 6% graduated from college
- 7.6 % some college education but no degree
EMPLOYMENT – Alcohol use among employees can bring on issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, to an increase in health care, legal liabilities and workers’ compensation costs. The rates of employed alcohol users, binge drinkers, and heavy drinkers are also high:
- 65.8 % of full-time employed adults aged 18+
- 53.8 % unemployed adults
- 30.5 % of full-time employed adults aged 18+
- 31.3 % unemployed adults
Among the 58.5 million adults who are binge drinkers – 44.5 million (76.1 %) are employed either full or part time. While among the 16.2 million adults who are heavy drinkers, more than 12 million (76.0 %) are employed.
Alcohol use and addiction questions
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