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Gateway Foundation Survey Sheds Light on Americans’ Drinking Habits in Honor of Alcohol Awareness Month in April

March 26, 2012

CHICAGO, March 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — To encourage adults to reflect upon their own drinking habits during April’s Alcohol Awareness Month, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment checked in with American adults about their alcohol consumption. According to Gateway Foundation’s 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study conducted online in February among 2,265 adults ages 21 and over by Harris Interactive, drinking in America appears to be more of the rule rather than exception. When asked if they ever drink alcohol, a mass majority–or 73 percent–of American adults ages 21 and older confirmed they do drink.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the federal government indicates nearly 23 million Americans have already crossed the threshold of needing treatment for alcohol or drug abuse and only 3 million got it. By raising awareness about moderate drinking and the long-term impact of alcohol abuse, Gateway Foundation aims to help people confronted with alcohol or drug abuse issues understand the potential health risks and get the treatment they need to live healthier and more productive lives.

Bearing in mind the USDA moderate drinking guidelines–up to two drinks per day for men and up to one drink per day for women–Gateway Foundation’s study answers questions about the frequency and amount of alcohol adults typically drink and identifies some areas of concern.

How Much Do Americans Drink?

To help illustrate the state of current alcohol consumption among Americans, the study asks adults how many drinks they have per drinking occasion. The most popular response at 27 percent is two drinks per occasion, which is within moderate drinking guidelines for men. The flip side, nearly one out of 10 (8 percent) indicated they drink four or five drinks per drinking event.

“Most people can have a couple drinks and be fine; but for some people, drinking alcoholic beverages creates a strong craving for more,” says Gateway Foundation Clinical Director Dr. Phil Welches. “For example, when a person consistently drinks four to five drinks a couple nights a week and experiences blackouts and frequent hangovers, it is possible that a drinking problem is developing.”

    How many drinks 1 drink 2 drinks 3 drinks 4-5 drinks 6-7 drinks 8 or more N/A; Don't Ever
     per occasion?                                                                  Drink
    Total Adults
     21+ (2,265
     ppl)                   20%      27%      12%        8%         4%        3%            27%

Women and Alcohol Consumption

About one quarter of women drinkers are moderate drinkers–drinking one (24 percent) alcoholic beverages per drinking occasion. However, a considerable percentage of women exceed recommended alcohol consumption guidelines, the majority of women (29 percent) drink two drinks per drinking event.

Consuming four or more drinks in about 2 hours for women is considered as binge drinking and a health risk. The Gateway Foundation study shows 9 percent of women tend to drink four or more drinks per event. The age group with the highest concentration of heavy drinkers is women ages 21-34 with 16 percent drinking four or more alcohol drinks per occasion. Drinking this much for a long duration may cause alcohol-related health issues in women in the future, including an increased chance for breast cancer.

    How many drinks 1 drink 2 drinks 3 drinks 4-5 drinks 6-7 drinks 8 or more N/A; Don't Ever
     per occasion?                                                                  Drink
    --------------- ------- -------- -------- ---------- ---------- ---------  ---------------
    Total Women              24%      29%      10%         5%         2%       2%           28%
    ---------------         ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Women 21-34              16%      29%      16%         9%         4%       3%           23%
    -----------             ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Women 35-44              22%      30%      13%         7%         2%       3%           22%
    -----------             ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Women 45-54              24%      28%      12%         2%         3%       1%           30%
    -----------             ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Women 55+                30%      29%       3%         2%  *               1%           34%
    --------                ---      ---      ---        ---  ---            ---           ---
    * Less than
     one-half
     percent
    -----------

Men and Alcohol Consumption

Among men, Gateway Foundation finds 41 percent are considered moderate drinkers, consuming one to two drinks per occasion, and 21 percent drink four or more drinks per drinking event. The study uncovers that 10 percent of the male population are potentially binge drinking, throwing back six or more drinks per drinking occasion. The highest percentages of men that drink six or more drinks a day are ages 21-34 (15 percent) and 35-44 years old (14 percent). However, men ages 35-44 drink more frequently than men ages 21-34, also covered in the survey findings.

“If an adult male drinks six or more drinks a day and does so frequently, it’s possible he is a functioning alcoholic and could need professional help to curb his drinking habit,” says Dr. Welches.

    How many drinks 1 drink 2 drinks 3 drinks 4-5 drinks 6-7 drinks 8 or more N/A; Don't Ever
     per occasion?                                                                  Drink
    --------------- ------- -------- -------- ---------- ---------- ---------  ---------------
    Total Men                16%      25%      13%        11%         5%       5%           25%
    ---------------         ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Men 21-34                12%      19%      15%        18%         5%      10%           21%
    ---------               ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Men 35-44                16%      23%      13%        12%         8%       6%           22%
    ---------               ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Men 45-54                10%      29%      16%         9%         4%       3%           29%
    ---------               ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---
    Men 55+                  23%      28%      10%         5%         5%       1%           28%
    ------                  ---      ---      ---        ---        ---      ---           ---

Frequency of Drinking

When Gateway Foundation asked adults how often they drink alcohol, approximately one quarter of Americans 21 and older (24 percent) say they drink one to three times per month. And, 7 percent say they drink five or more days a week.

    How often     Less than once a                                   3-4 days per 5-6 days per           N/A; Don't Ever
     do you               month                                              week      week                    Drink
     drink
     alcohol?   Ever                 1-3 times per month  1-2 days per week                      Everyday

    ---
    Total
     Adults 21+
     (2,265
     ppl)             73%        22%                  24%                13%        6%        3%            4%         27%
    -----------      ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---

How Often Do Women Drink?

When it comes to women, Gateway Foundation’s 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study finds that approximately 14 percent of women 55+ drink more than three days a week–more than any other age group. The 55+age group also has the most women who never drink at 34 percent. Women ages 55+ also have more individuals who drink every day of the week (5 percent) than any other age group–yet the mass majority of women ages 55+ drink one to two alcoholic beverages per occasion, which is within moderate drinking guidelines.

    How often                           Less than once a                                   3-4 days per 5-6 days per           N/A; Don't Ever
     do you                                     month                                              week      week                    Drink
     drink
     alcohol?                         Ever                 1-3 times per month  1-2 days per week                      Everyday

    ---                                                                                                                                     ---
    Total Women                             72%        26%                  22%                14%        4%        3%            3%         28%
    -----------                            ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Women 21-34                             77%        28%                  25%                15%        4%        4%            1%         23%
    -----------                            ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Women 35-44                             78%        29%                  28%                15%        4%  *                   2%         22%
    -----------                            ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---  ---                ---         ---
    Women 45-54                             70%        20%                  23%                19%        4%        2%            1%         30%
    -----------                            ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Women 55+                               66%        26%                  16%                10%        5%        4%            5%         34%
    --------                               ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    * base less than one-half percent
    ---------------------------------

How Frequently Do Men Drink?

Taking a closer look at how often men drink alcohol, the study shows the youngest group, men ages 21-34 has the lowest percentage of individuals who drink five or more days a week at 3 percent. In contrast, two groups–men 35-44 and men 55 and older–have the highest number of individuals who drink five or more days a week at 12 percent.

    How often   Less than once a                                   3-4 days per 5-6 days per           N/A; Don't Ever
     do you             month                                              week      week                    Drink
     drink
     alcohol? Ever                 1-3 times per month  1-2 days per week                      Everyday

    ---
    Total Men       75%        19%                  27%                13%        8%        3%            5%         25%
    ---------      ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Men 21-34       79%        23%                  34%                 9%       10%        1%            2%         21%
    ---------      ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Men 35-44       78%        18%                  21%                15%       13%        5%            6%         22%
    ---------      ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Men 45-54       71%        13%                  25%                20%        5%        3%            4%         29%
    ---------      ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---
    Men 55+         72%        18%                  26%                10%        7%        3%            8%         28%
    ------         ---        ---                  ---                ---       ---       ---           ---         ---

Alcohol and Health

It is in everyone’s best interest to be cognizant of the amount of alcohol they consume. Over the longer term the effects of alcohol abuse can include high blood pressure, enlarged and weakened heart, congestive heart failure and stroke. Binge drinking can be associated with atrial fibrillation, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. If the heart’s components don’t work together properly it can even lead to a stroke, advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

If drinking is a concern, Gateway offers a free consultation to help determine the extent of one’s alcohol problem. For more information about signs and symptoms of substance abuse and drug and alcohol treatment programs, please visit RecoverGateway.org.

Survey Methodology

Gateway Foundation’s 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study was conducted online within the United States during February 7-9, 2012 among 2,265 adults (aged 21 and over), among whom 1,646 consume alcohol, by Harris Interactive on behalf of Gateway Foundation via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

Data tables for the American Alcohol Consumption Study may be found at RecoverGateway.org.

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is a non-profit organization dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of the people it treats. As Illinois’ largest provider of substance abuse treatment, Gateway provides services for adolescents and adults at treatment centers throughout the state. Gateway Foundation helps thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment each year and find the hope they need to live again.

SOURCE Gateway Foundation Alcohol and Drug Rehab


Source: PR Newswire