This report presents the first information from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey is the primary source of information on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 12 years old or older. The survey interviews approximately 67,500 persons each year.
Slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2008 survey (51.6 percent). This translates to an estimated 129.0 million people, which was similar to the 2007 estimate of 126.8 million people (51.1 percent).
In 2008, more than one fifth (23.3 percent) of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking. This translates to about 58.1 million people, similar to the estimate in 2007. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the 30 days prior to the survey.
In 2008, heavy drinking was reported by 6.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older, or 17.3 million people. This rate was the same as the rate of heavy drinking in 2007. Heavy drinking is defined as binge drinking on at least 5 days in the past 30 days.
Among young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2008, the rate of binge drinking was 41.0 percent, and the rate of heavy drinking was 14.5 percent. These rates were similar to the rates in 2007.
The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 14.6 percent in 2008, which is lower than the 2007 rate (15.9 percent). Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in 2008 were 8.8 percent (lower than the 9.7 percent rate in 2007) and 2.0 percent, respectively.
Past month and binge drinking rates among underage persons (aged 12 to 20) declined between 2002 and 2008. The rate of past month underage drinking declined from 28.8 to 26.4 percent, and the rate of past month binge drinking declined from 19.3 to 17.4 percent.
Past month alcohol use rates declined between 2002 and 2008 for those aged 12 or 13 (4.3 to 3.4 percent), 14 or 15 (16.6 to 13.1 percent), 16 or 17 (32.6 to 26.2 percent), and 18 to 20 (51.0 to 48.7 percent).
Among persons aged 12 to 20, past month alcohol use rates in 2008 were 17.2 percent among Asians, 19.0 percent among blacks, 22.9 percent among those reporting two or more races, 23.1 percent among Hispanics, 26.4 percent among American Indians or Alaska Natives, and 30.1 percent among whites.
In 2008, 56.2 percent of current drinkers aged 12 to 20 reported that their last use of alcohol in the past month occurred in someone else's home, and 29.6 percent reported that it had occurred in their own home. About one third (30.8 percent) paid for the alcohol the last time they drank, including 8.3 percent who purchased the alcohol themselves and 22.3 percent who gave money to someone else to purchase it. Among those who did not pay for the alcohol they last drank, 37.4 percent got it from an unrelated person aged 21 or older, 21.1 percent from another person under 21 years of age, and 21.0 percent from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member.
In 2008, an estimated 12.4 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This percentage has dropped since 2002, when it was 14.2 percent. The rate of driving under the influence of alcohol was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (26.1 percent).\