Alcohol Use Facts from the NSUDH

A Look at the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Every year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes data collected in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUDH). The most recent publication released in August 2019 indicates that:

  • An estimated 139.8 million Americans 12 or older used alcohol in the past month
  • Just over 67 million indicated they were binge drinkers
  • 6 million were considered heavy drinkers
  • Over 2 million children (12-17 years old) admitted to drinking alcohol within the past month
  • Nearly half of those indicated they binge drank during that period

The 2018 survey also indicated that there were 4.9 million new users of alcohol making it the substance with the largest number of recent initiates to use or misuse it. Despite these numbers, the survey showed that “approximately 1.4 percent of people aged 12 or older (3.7 million people) received any substance use treatment.”

The study shows that only a small percentage of the people that have an alcohol use disorder seek treatment. According to the survey, binge drinking is defined as men drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days and four or more for women. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is defined by binge drinking on five or more days in a 30-day period. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption can have devastating health consequences for men and women.