Top 5 States for Binge-Drinking

Binge-drinking is a national problem, but it is a bigger concern for some states than others. The national rate dropped slightly in the US this year with 16.8% of US adults reporting they had such episodes in the past 30 days. That's down from 16.9% in 2013, according to America's Health Rankings, an annual survey that assesses the nation's health. But in some states the rate is far higher.

Binge drinking—defined as having 5 alcoholic drinks for a man and 4 drinks for a woman on one occasion--dropped slightly in the US this year with 16.8% of US adults reporting they had such episodes in the past 30 days. That’s down from 16.9% in 2013, according to America’s Health Rankings, an annual survey that assesses the nation’s health.

But there are wide variations in binge-drinking prevalence among the states.

The top 5 binge-drinking states are North Dakota (23.8%) Wisconsin (22.5%), Illinois (21.8%), Iowa (21.7%) and Minnesota (21.0%).

At the other end of the scale, the states with the lowest percentages of reported binge-drinking are Tennessee (9.6%) Alabama (11.2%) West Virginia (11.2%), Utah (12.3%) and Mississippi (12.4%).

The data were compiled for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was obtained through a state-based, randomly dialed phone survey of US adults known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Binge drinking rates are highest among 18 to 34 year olds, but adults over age 64 binge drink more often.

According to the CDC, binge-drinkers are not considered alcoholics. But they typically drink too much about 4 times a month. When binge-drinkers were asked to give the largest number of drinks they had on one occasion, the average number was 8.5 drinks for people with incomes under $25,000 and 7.2 drinks for people making more than $75,000. People in the lower income bracket also reported binging more often, with 5 episodes a month.

The report notes a variety of negative consequences for binge drinking. They include motor-vehicle accidents and resulting deaths, risky sexual behaviors leading to unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, the birth of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, and unintentional injuries.

The study also cites a 2006 estimate that excessive drinking that year cost $223.billion in the US, based on missed work, extra health care expenses and increased crime.