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Health Indicator Report of Alcohol Consumption - Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States and those who binge drink tend to do so frequently and with high intensity. According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006-2010. Nationally, the economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion. Short-term health effects associated with excessive drinking include injuries from motor vehicle crashes or falls, violence in the form of sexual assault or suicide, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behaviors, and miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women. Long-term health effects of excessive alcohol use include increased risk of high blood pressure, various cancers, learning and memory problems, mental health problems like depression and anxiety, social problems and alcohol dependence.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking Among Adults, BRFSS, United States, 2010

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The figure above shows the prevalence of binge drinking among adults in the United States during 2010, as determined from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System combined landline and cellular telephone developmental dataset. Overall, states with the highest age-adjusted prevalence of adult binge drinking were in the Midwest and New England, and included the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii. Utah's 2010 prevalence of binge drinking was 10.9 percent, placing it among the states with the lowest rates.

Binge Drinking in the Past 30 Days, Utah and U.S., 2005-2015


A drink of alcohol is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a drink with one shot of liquor.   [[br]] [[br]] U.S. data are the average value for all states and the District of Columbia; they do not include U.S. territories. The rates shown in the data table and on the line graph are crude rates, not age-adjusted, given that the Healthy People 2020 Objective is based on crude rates. Rates shown on the U.S. map are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census standard population. From 1989-2005, binge drinking on the BRFSS was defined as consuming five or more drinks of alcohol on an occasion one or more times during the past 30 days for both males and females. Starting in 2006, the definition of binge drinking changed to consuming five or more drinks on an occasion for men, or four or more drinks on an occasion for women one or more times during the past 30 days.

Data Sources

  • Utah Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Office of Public Health Assessment, Utah Department of Health
  • U.S. Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Division of Behavioral Surveillance, CDC Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services

Data Interpretation Issues

To reduce bias and more accurately represent population data, the BRFSS survey methodology changed. In 2009, the survey began including surveys on cellular phones in addition to landline phones. And a new weighting methodology, known as "iterative proportional fitting" (raking) was implemented. More details about these changes can be found at: []. Because of these changes, differences in binge drinking rates across methodologies should be interpreted with caution. As with all surveys, some error results from nonresponse (e.g., refusal to participate in the survey or to answer specific questions), and measurement (e.g., social desirability or recall bias). Error was minimized by use of strict calling protocols, good questionnaire design, standardization of interviewer behavior, interviewer training, and frequent, on-site interviewer monitoring and supervision.


Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. It is listed as the percentage of survey respondents who reported binge drinking during the 30 days prior to the survey.


Number of survey respondents who reported binge drinking during the 30 days prior to the survey.


Number of survey respondents excluding those with missing, "Don't know/Not sure", or "Refused" responses.

Healthy People Objective SA-14.3:

Reduce the proportion of persons engaging in binge drinking during the past 30 days--adults aged 18 years and older
U.S. Target: 24.4 percent

How Are We Doing?

Using data from both landline and cell phones in 2015, it was estimated that 11.6% (crude rate) of Utah adults binge drank at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey. Utah is well below the Healthy People 2020 objective of 24.4% for this measure.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Estimates show that 16.0% of U.S. adults reported binge drinking in the past 30 days in 2014 whereas 11.6% of Utah adults reported binge drinking in 2015 (crude rates). The percentage of adults who reported binge drinking in the past 30 days was substantially lower in Utah than in the U.S. for all years reported between 1989-2015.

What Is Being Done?

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) receives funding from the Alcohol Program at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for a full-time alcohol epidemiologist. With this additional capacity at the UDOH, it is now possible to conduct more monitoring and surveillance of excessive alcohol use and related harms. The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is the agency responsible for ensuring that substance abuse and mental health prevention and treatment services are available statewide. The Division also acts as a resource by providing general information, research, and statistics to the public regarding substances of abuse and mental health services. []

Evidence-based Practices

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends evidence based strategies to reduce excessive alcohol consumption in The Community Guide. [] These strategies include: 1) Increasing alcoholic beverage costs 2) Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcoholic beverages in a given area 3) Holding alcohol retailers responsible for the harms caused by their underage or intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability) 4) Restricting access to alcohol by maintaining limits on the days and hours of alcohol retail sales 5) Consistent enforcement of laws against underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving 6) Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse.

Available Services

Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (A-SBI) is a preventive service like hypertension or cholesterol screening that can occur as part of a patient's wellness visit. It identifies and helps individuals who are drinking too much. A-SBI is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Community Guide), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). For more information on A-SBI, please the CDC vital signs website: [] Substance abuse helplines are also available. NATIONAL: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a toll-free referral helpline. The number is: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). UTAH: Dial 2-1-1 for state and community service information. Code 2-1-1 can now be accessed from anywhere in the state of Utah. 211 Info Bank, a program of Community Services Council, is a free information and referral line for health, human and community services. 211 provides information and referral on many topics.
Page Content Updated On 07/13/2017, Published on 08/01/2017
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Wed, 18 October 2017 14:17:31 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 1 Aug 2017 13:28:53 MDT