Special Report

States With the Highest Rates of Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six adults in the U.S. indulges in binge drinking on occasion, with 25% consuming alcohol excessively at least weekly. The CDC defines binge drinking as “consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women.”

While binge drinking may not mean a person is dependent on alcohol, it carries the potential for serious health consequences. Binge drinking, the CDC notes, can lead to chronic conditions such as liver disease, cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. Downing several alcohol beverages in a row also raises the chance of deadly motor vehicle accidents and falls. (These are the states where drunk driving causes the most driving deaths.)

Like overall alcohol usage, the prevalence of binge drinking varies from state to state. To compile a list of the states with the highest percentage of binge drinking (and also the lowest), 24/7 Tempo reviewed “Binge drinking prevalence among adults in the United States as of 2021, by state,” a study by the data site Statista, which in turn analyzed data published in October 2022 by the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.  

The CDC data surveyed about 70,000 people aged 12 to 64, but the incidence of binge drinking among minors is minimal, and the Statista analysis covers only those 18 or older who – in the 30 days prior to being surveyed – consumed four or more alcoholic drinks (for women) or five or more (for men) on a single occasion. (No data was available for the state of Florida. Median household income and population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.)  

Click here to see states with the highest rates of binge drinking

State by state, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin – in ascending order – all registered a population of binge drinkers in the 20% range. (In terms of total consumption, these are the states where people drink the most alcohol.)

There seems to be no correlation between median household income and the percentage of binge drinkers in a state. Median household income in Wisconsin is $67,125, 22nd highest on the list, for instance, while the percentage of adults who binge drank in 2021 topped all states at 21.9%. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s median household income is much lower at $51,248. Yet only 11.6% binge drink, the lowest rate of any state.

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