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2016 Alcohol Use and Abuse:
Binge Drinking Highest Among Young Adults


There has been little change in the prevalence of self-reported "binge drinking" or of chronic heavy drinking among Delaware adults during the past six years.  In 2016, 17 percent of Delaware adults reported binge drinking during the 30 days prior to being interviewed.  This is up slightly from 14.9 percent in 2015 (although the difference is not statistically significant).  

The Delaware BRFS asks several questions about alcoholic beverages, which are analyzed to provide prevalence estimates for three factors:  1) percentage of the adult population who drink alcoholic beverages of any type, 2) percentage of adults who are binge drinkers, and 3) percentage of adults who are heavy drinkers.  Chronic heavy drinking and/or binge drinking can increase the drinker's risk for personal injury, car crashes and fatalities, heart disease, cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and a number of other health conditions.

pictures of types of alcohol

According to the 2016 BRFS, 17 percent of Delaware adults reported binge drinking.  "Binge drinking" in the BRFS is defined as "males having five or more drinks, and females having four or more drinks, on one occasion."

Binge drinking was higher among men (20.6 percent) than women (13.7 percent).  Prevalence was significantly higher among adults age 18-34, and declined steadily with age.

Binge Drinking, by Age:

  • 18-24 = 30.9 percent
  • 25-34 = 28.1 percent
  • 35-44 = 17 percent
  • 45-54 = 16.7 percent
  • 55-64 = 11.5 percent
  • 65 and older = 6.3 percent

Binge drinkers are about two and a half times as likely as those who don't binge drink to smoke cigarettes, increasing their risks for several chronic diseases.  About 29.3 percent of binge drinkers report also being smokers, compared to only 15.1 percent of adults who don't binge drink.

Regular Heavy Drinking

"Heavy drinking" is defined by the BRFS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week for men and more than 7 drinks per week for women.

In 2016, 6.4 percent of Delaware adults reported heavy drinking. The trend has been essentially level for the past six years.  Prevalence of heavy drinking was 7.4 percent in 2011, 6.8 percent and 6.6 percent in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and 5.2 percent in 2014.

The highest prevalence of heavy drinking was reported by white males (7.8 percent). 

Drinking and Driving Still a Problem

Four percent of Delaware adults who drink alcohol — mostly men — admit to drinking and driving during the month preceding the interview. The question asks: "During the past 30 days, how many times have you driven when you've had perhaps too much to drink?"  Four percent of respondents who drink reported having driven with "perhaps too much to drink" one or more times during the month. While this seems like a small percentage, it translates to more than 16,000 adult drivers on our roads after drinking in any given month.

There has not been any statistically significant change in the prevalence of self-reported drinking and driving since 2011.

Any Alcohol Use

In 2016, more than half  (56.2 percent) of Delaware's adult population reported drinking alcohol at least once in the past 30 days. The percentage of the adult population who consume at least some alcoholic beverages has remained largely unchanged for the past decade. 

Men are significantly more likely to drink, at least occasionally, than women.  About 61.3 percent of men reported having at least one drink in the past month, compared to 51.5 percent of women respondents.

 

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