How Many People Drink Alcohol in the U.S.?

Statistics From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Beer Drinkers
Not Everyone Binge Drinks. © Getty Images

Question: How Many People Drink Alcohol in the U.S.?

Answer:

More than half of all Americans aged 12 or older report that they are current drinkers. That means more than half the populations of the United States over the age of 12 have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days.

According to figures from the latest (2014) national survey, 52.7% of those surveyed said they were current drinkersĀ or an estimated 139.6 million people.

That number is up slighted from the estimated 136.8 million drinkers in 2013.

This information is from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual interview of approximately 67,500 people, asking about their alcohol and drug use in the past year.

Statistics From NSDUH 2014

The following statistics are from the 2014 NSDUH survey:

An estimated 217.7 million people reported that they had consummed alcohol at some time during their lifetime and 176.5 million said they had consumed some alcohol in the past 12 months.

Among the 139.6 million current drinkers in 2014, an estimated 60.9 million (23% of the popluation) reported binge drinking in the past month and another 16.3 million reported heavy drinking in the past 30 days.

For the purposes of the NSDUH survey, binge drinking is five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. Heavy alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.

All heavy alcohol users reported in NSDUH statistics are also binge drinkers.

Estimated Drinkers by Age Group

Here are the estimated current drinkers, binge drinkers and heavy drinkers for the following age groups in 2014:

  • Ages 12-13
    • Current Drinkers: 168,000 (2.1%)
    • Binge Drinkers: 64,000 (0.8%)
    • Heavy Drinkers: 8,000 (0.1%
    Ages 14-15
    • Current Drinkers: 722,000 (8.5%)
    • Binge Drinkers: 330,000 (3.9%)
    • Heavy Drinkers: 44,000 (0.5%
    Ages 16-17
    • Current Drinkers: 1.98 million (23.3%)
    • Binge Drinkers: 1.1 million (13.1%)
    • Heavy Drinkers: 205,000 (2.4%
    Ages 18-20
    • Current Drinkers: 5.78 million (44.2%)
    • Binge Drinkers: 3.7 million (28.5%)
    • Heavy Drinkers: 1.04 million (8.0%

    Please note that the above 8.65 million current drinkers are all illegal, underaged drinkers.

    • Ages 21-25
      • Current Drinkers: 15.0 million (68.8%)
      • Binge Drinkers: 9.4 million (43.3%)
      • Heavy Drinkers: 2.7 million (12.5%
      Ages 26-34
      • Current Drinkers: 24.98 million (66.0%)
      • Binge Drinkers: 13.4 million (35.5%)
      • Heavy Drinkers: 3.3 million (8.9%
      Ages 35 and Older
      • Current Drinkers: 24.98 million (54.4%)
      • Binge Drinkers: 13.4 million (19.6%)
      • Heavy Drinkers: 3.3 million (3.3%

    Estimated Current Drinkers by Gender

    • Ages 12 and Over Males
      • Current Drinkers: 73.5 million (57.3%)
      • Binge Drinkers: 38.5 million (30%)
      • Heavy Drinkers: 11.9 million (9.3%
      Ages 12 and Over Females
      • Current Drinkers: 66.1 million (48.4%)
      • Binge Drinkers: 22.3 million (16.4%)
      • Heavy Drinkers: 4.4 million (3.2%

    These statistics were prepared by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and by RTI International, a trade name of Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

    Is your drinking level safe, risky or harmful. Find out by taking the Alcohol Screening Quiz.

    Do you have withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking? Are your symptoms mild, moderate or severe? Take the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Quiz.

    Return to the Alcohol Consumption FAQs.

    Source:

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables." Population Data / NSDUH September 2014

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