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2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Highlights

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report was released today. This survey which collects data on past month consumption, binge drinking (defined as 4 or more drinks for a female and 5 or more for a male on the same occasion in the past 30 days), and heavy alcohol consumption (defined as binge drinking on five or more days in the past month), among Americans 12 years of age and older. The 2016 report is based on nearly 68,000 completed interviews.

According to the 2016 NSDUH, 136.7 million (or 51%) Americans 12 or older consumed alcohol in the past month, including 24% who are current binge drinkers and 6% who were heavy alcohol users in the past month. These estimate reflects a continuing decline in alcohol consumption.

Among the nation’s youth underage drinking also continued to decline. According to the 2016 NSDUH, about 7.3 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents 19% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal. Over the past decade, more than 3.4 million fewer 12- to 20-year olds reported drinking alcohol in the past month, and almost 2.7 million fewer youth reported binge drinking compared to 2007.  More specifically, from 2015 to 2016 there were slight decreases noted in current drinking (5%, proportionally), binge drinking (10%) and heavy alcohol consumption (15%) among 12- to 20-year olds. Over the past ten years, current underage drinking has declined 31% from 28.0% in 2007 to 19.3% in 2016, a statistically significant decline. Due to methodological changes in the survey definition of binge drinking from 5 or more drinks to specific gender definitions, estimates of binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption are not considered comparable prior to 2015.

Though progress is being made, underage drinking remains an ongoing problem. The attached charts reflect the progress we have made over the past ten years.