All About Drinking Alcohol


Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is considered normal, social behavior. And for most people it is a way of relaxing and enjoying the effects of alcohol. This page will address some of the pros and cons of drinking alcohol as well as other related issues.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages in the US is a big deal. Alcohol is a part of American society and considered an appropriate activity during parties, sporting events and just watching TV.

Drinking Alcohol - heavy drinking vs. binge drinking

The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 15.9 percent in 2007. Youth binge and heavy drinking rates were 9.7 and 2.3 percent, respectively. These rates are essentially the same as the 2006rates (16.6, 10.3, and 2.4 percent, respectively).

Current number of Alcohol Drinkers

  • Slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2007 survey (51.1 percent). This translates to an estimated 126.8 million people, which is similar to the 2006 estimate of 125.3 million people (50.9 percent).

Age range for Alcohol Drinkers

  • In 2007, rates of current alcohol use were 3.5 percent among persons aged 12 or 13, 14.7 percent of persons aged 14 or 15, 29.0 percent of 16 or 17 year olds, 50.7 percent of those aged 18 to 20, and 68.3 percent of 21 to 25 year old. Among older age groups, the prevalence of current alcohol use decreased with increasing age, from 63.2 percent among 26 to 29 year olds to 47.6 percent among 60 to 64 year olds and 38.1 percent among people aged 65 or older.

Adolescent Male vs. Female Alcohol Drinkers

  • In 2007, 56.6 percent of males aged 12 or older were current drinkers, higher than the rate for females (46.0 percent). However, among youths aged 12 to 17, the percentage of males who were current drinkers (15.9 percent) were similar to the rate for females (16.0 percent).

Men Drink More Alcohol than Women

  • Among adults aged 18 to 25, an estimated 57.1 percent of females and 65.3 percent of males reported current drinking in 2007. These rates are similar to those reported in 2006 (57.9 and 65.9 percent, respectively).

Trends in drinking alcohol


Per Capita Alcohol Consumption

  • United States per capita consumption of ethanol from all alcoholic beverages combined in 2005 was 2.24 gallons, representing a 0.4 percent increase from 2.23 gallons in 2004. The increase is due to the increase in per capita consumption of wine (from 0.35 to 0.36 gallons ethanol) and spirits (from 0.68 to 0.70 gallons ethanol). However, per capita consumption of beer decreased (from 1.21 to 1.19 gallons ethanol).

Increases and decreases in alcohol drinking by States

  • Between 2004 and 2005, changes in overall per capita consumption of ethanol included increases in 29 states, decreases in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and no change in two states.

Alcohol Drinking and Consumption by Regions of the U.S.

  • Analysis of overall per capita alcohol consumption by census region between 2004 and 2005 indicated increases in the Northeast (0.4 percent), the West (0.4 percent), and the Midwest (1.8 percent), and a decrease in the South (0.5 percent)

Trying to Decrease Drinking Alcohol Back Fired

  • Healthy People 2010 has set the national objective for reducing per capita alcohol consumption to no more than 1.96 gallons ethanol. However, there has been an increasing trend in per capita consumption since 1999. To meet the 2010 objective, per capita alcohol consumption will need to decrease by 12.5 percent, or about 3 percent per year from 2006 through 2010.

Alcohol Drinking Related Impairment

Drinking alcohol is associated with a wide range of accidents and injuries resulting from the impaired performance of complex mental and motor functions. The relationship between alcohol and motor vehicle crashes is well known; alcohol also has been implicated in many railroad, boating, and aircraft accidents. The subtlety and complexity of the skills required to operate these vehicles make them susceptible to impairment by low doses of alcohol. The discussion is limited to the acute impairment that results from an episode of intoxication, rather than the chronic impairment that may develop after years of heavy drinking alcoholism rehab treatment center/p>

Alcohol Drinking and the Workplace

Drinking among U.S. workers can threaten public safety, impair job performance, and result in costly medical, social, and other problems affecting employees and employers alike. Productivity losses attributed to alcohol were estimated at $119 billion for 1995. As this Alcohol Alert explains, several factors contribute to problem drinking in the workplace. Employers are in a unique position to mitigate some of these factors and to motivate employees to seek help for alcohol problems.

Alcohol Drinking and Tolerance

Drinking alcohol interferes with many bodily functions and affects behavior. However, after chronic alcohol consumption, the drinker often develops tolerance to at least some of alcohol's effects. Tolerance means that after continued drinking, consumption of a constant amount of alcohol produces a lesser effect or increasing amounts of alcohol are necessary to produce the same effect. Despite this uncomplicated definition, scientists distinguish between several types of tolerance that are produced by different mechanisms.

Alcohol drinking and Interactions with medications

Drinking alcohol may interact harmfully with more than 100 medications, including some sold over the counter. The effects of alcohol are especially augmented by medications that depress the function of the central nervous system, such as sedatives, sleeping pills, anti convulsants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and certain painkillers. There is a consequent increased danger of driving an automobile after even moderate drinking if such medications are taken. In advanced heart failure, alcohol may not only worsen the disease, but also interfere with the function of medications to treat the disease.

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