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Who Uses and Abuses Drugs and Alcohol?

U.S. Government Survey Shows Patterns of Illicit Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use

Big Drinkers

Slightly more than half of all people 12 and older surveyed said they are current drinkers.

That's similar to what was found in 2006.

  • 23% of those 12 and older said they binge drink. "Binge" drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting on at least one day in the past month.
  • 7% of respondents said they are heavy drinkers. "Heavy" drinking means binge drinking on at least five out of the past 30 days.

Among 18- to 25-year-olds:

  • 42% said they binge drink.
  • 15% reported they are heavy drinkers.

Among 12- to 17-year-olds:

  • 16% said they are current drinkers.
  • 10% said they are binge drinkers.
  • 2% reported they are heavy drinkers.

Who Drinks?

Among 12- to 20-year-olds, here is the breakdown among race of who say they use alcohol:

  • 32% of whites
  • 28% of American Indians or Alaska natives
  • 26% of people who describe themselves as two or more races
  • 25% of Hispanics
  • 18% of African-Americans
  • 17% of Asians
  • 56% of those 12- to 20-years-old said their last drink was in "somebody else's home."
  • 29% of the same population said they last had a drink in their own home.

Tobacco Use

Twenty-nine percent of people aged 12 and older reported that they used tobacco in the month before the survey was given.

  • 24% of respondents said they are current smokers.
  • 5% smoke cigars.
  • 3% chew tobacco or use snuff.

Sixteen percent of pregnant women ages 15 to 44 said they smoked cigarettes a month before the survey. That figure came from combining data from 2006 and 2007.

Twenty-eight percent of the same age group of women who were not pregnant said they were smokers.

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