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Excessive Drinking - Women
Excessive Drinking - Women in United States
United States

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Excessive Drinking - Women in depth:

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Excessive Drinking - Women by State

Percentage of females ages 18-44 who reported binge drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days) or heavy drinking (eight or more drinks per week)

Excessive Drinking - Women Trends

Percentage of females ages 18-44 who reported binge drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days) or heavy drinking (eight or more drinks per week)

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Excessive Drinking - Women

About Excessive Drinking - Women

US Value: 19.4%

Top State(s): Utah: 12.0%

Bottom State(s): Wisconsin: 26.9%

Definition: Percentage of females ages 18-44 who reported binge drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days) or heavy drinking (eight or more drinks per week)

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2019-2020

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of preventable mortality in the United States. More than 27,000 women die annually on average from alcohol-related causes. 

While men are more likely to engage in excessive drinking and become alcohol dependent, the gender gap has been decreasing as these behaviors become more common among younger generations of women. Females absorb alcohol quicker and metabolize it more slowly than males, which can lead to accelerated development of adverse health outcomes even at lower levels of alcohol consumption. 

Among women, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, breast cancer and hypertension. Moreover, binge drinking is associated with an increased prevalence of other substance use. Among pregnant women, alcohol use is associated with preterm birth, stillbirth and miscarriage and can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Combined use of alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy may also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Very heavy alcohol consumption (14 or more drinks a week) may make conception difficult.

Excessive drinking causes losses in workplace productivity and increases in health care expenses, criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs and property damage. The total estimated cost of excessive drinking in the United States was $249 billion in 2010, or about $2.05 per alcoholic drink consumed.

The prevalence of excessive drinking is highest among:

  • Women ages 18-24 compared with women ages 35-44.
  • Non-Hispanic white women compared with Asian women. 
  • Women who are college graduates compared with women with less education.
  • Women with household incomes of $50,000 or more compared with women with lower household incomes. 
  • Women living in metropolitan areas compared with those in non-metropolitan areas.

Choosing to use moderation when consuming alcohol can reduce the risk of adverse short- and long-term health outcomes. Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should not drink alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends against drinking for women who are sexually active and do not use effective birth control, as it might affect an unplanned pregnancy. The CDC has a drinking tool that allows adults to anonymously check their drinking and identify barriers and motivators for drinking less.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that clinicians screen adults ages 18 and older for unhealthy alcohol use and provide brief behavioral counseling interventions. Evidence-based strategies have been effective in preventing excessive drinking. The Community Preventive Services Task Force has published several recommended interventions.

Healthy People 2030 has multiple goals related to excessive drinking. These include:

  • Increasing abstinence from alcohol among pregnant women. 
  • Reducing the proportion of people who engage in binge drinking.
  • Reducing the proportion of people who had alcohol use disorder in the past year.

Elliott, Amy J., Hannah C. Kinney, Robin L. Haynes, Johan D. Dempers, Colleen Wright, William P. Fifer, Jyoti Angal, et al. “Concurrent Prenatal Drinking and Smoking Increases Risk for SIDS: Safe Passage Study Report.” EClinicalMedicine 19 (January 20, 2020): 100247.

Esser, Marissa B., Cassandra M. Pickens, Gary P. Jr. Guy, and Mary E. Evans. “Binge Drinking, Other Substance Use, and Concurrent Use in the U.S., 2016–2018.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 60, no. 2 (February 1, 2021): 169–78.

Esser, Marissa B., Adam Sherk, Yong Liu, Timothy S. Naimi, Timothy Stockwell, Mandy Stahre, Dafna Kanny, Michael Landen, Richard Saitz, and Robert D. Brewer. “Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost From Excessive Alcohol Use — United States, 2011–2015.” MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 69, no. 39 (October 2, 2020): 1428–33.

Fan, Dazhi, Li Liu, Qing Xia, Wen Wang, Shuzhen Wu, Guo Tian, Ying Liu, et al. “Female Alcohol Consumption and Fecundability: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis.” Scientific Reports 7, no. 1 (October 23, 2017): 13815.

Keyes, Katherine M., Guohua Li, and Deborah S. Hasin. “Birth Cohort Effects and Gender Differences in Alcohol Epidemiology: A Review and Synthesis.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 35, no. 12 (December 2011): 2101–12.

Sacks, Jeffrey J., Katherine R. Gonzales, Ellen E. Bouchery, Laura E. Tomedi, and Robert D. Brewer. “2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 49, no. 5 (November 1, 2015): e73–79.

The US Burden of Disease Collaborators, Ali H. Mokdad, Katherine Ballestros, Michelle Echko, Scott Glenn, Helen E. Olsen, Erin Mullany, et al. “The State of US Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States.” JAMA 319, no. 14 (April 10, 2018): 1444.

Wilsnack, Sharon C., Richard W. Wilsnack, and Lori Wolfgang Kantor. “Focus on: Women and the Costs of Alcohol Use.” Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 35, no. 2 (2013): 219–28.

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