Vice Squad
Friday, December 12, 2003
New US Alcohol Consumption Data

Vice Squad's primo research assistant Ryan Monarch brings us
word of a report released today (3-page pdf version here) on
the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The report
concerns the alcohol-related habits of current drinkers; i.e. abstainers
are excluded (and in terms of the "current drinker" criterion used in
the report -- one or more drinks in the last thirty days -- nearly half
of those 12 and older are abstainers.) The survey asks about the
number of occasions in the past month that alcohol was consumed,
the number of drinks per drinking occasion, driving behavior, and
so on.

Some of the findings that stand out to me:

(1) In terms of number of drinking occasions in the past months,
males (9.9) lead females (6.7); whites (9.0) lead other racial
groups, with Asians (5.5) coming in last; and those 26 and older
lead the younger age groups.

(2) For average number of drinks per drinking occasion, however,
the younger age groups exceed the 26 and ups, while "American
Indian or Alaska Native" far exceed the other groups.

(3) Rates of driving under the influence of alcohol are much higher
for 18 to 25 year old drinkers than for their older counterparts.

These figures are apparently drawn from self-reports on a survey.
Comparisons of self-reported consumption with production and
sales figures in the past has found a very significant tendency for
self-reports to underestimate actual alcohol consumption -- by
some forty percent, even.

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