Health Department Releases 2014 Data on Binge Drinking in New York City

Data show binge drinkers engage in other risky health behaviors

October 11, 2016 – The Health Department today released an Epi Data Brief entitled, “Binge Drinking and Associated Health-Related Behaviors among Adults in New York City, 2014.” In New York City, 54 percent of adults reported current drinking in 2014, and of those, 29 percent were binge drinkers. Current drinking is defined as consuming at least one alcoholic drink during the past 30 days, while binge drinking is the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks for men and four or more for women on one occasion during the past 30 days. Prior research has shown that binge drinking is associated with risky sexual behavior, cigarette smoking, drug misuse, and motor vehicle crashes. This data brief assesses the relationship between binge drinking and other health-related behaviors, including health care access. The full Epi Data Brief with data tables (PDF).

“Binge drinking is a public health problem that is responsible for preventable injuries, accidents and risky behavior,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Our new data show that binge drinkers are also less likely to have a routine health care provider – a key component in identifying drinking-related health issues. We remind New Yorkers to be conscious of how much alcohol they consume, and to take steps to protect their health.”

According to the latest data, binge drinkers in NYC were:  

  • twice as likely in 2014 to be current smokers (24 percent) than non-binge drinkers (12 percent) and non-drinkers (11 percent)
  • more likely than non-binge drinkers to lack health insurance among those employed (17 percent vs. 13 percent)
  • more likely to not have preventive dental visit within the past year (42 percent) compared with non-binge drinkers (34 percent)
  • less likely to have a routine health care provider (81 percent) compared with non-binge drinkers (86 percent) and non-drinkers (86 percent)

In 2014, 59 percent of binge drinkers were men, compared with 48 percent of non-binge drinkers and 40 percent of non-drinkers. About three in five (58 percent) binge drinkers were ages 25 to 44. About 30 percent of binge drinkers lived in Manhattan, compared with 23 percent of non-binge drinkers and 15 percent of non-drinkers.

"Binge drinking is dangerous for many reasons and continues to be a serious public health concern," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "When nearly thirty percent of adults report that they binge drink that means our City has more outreach and education to do. With statistics like these, our City can pursue strategies to help New Yorkers lead healthier lives, and I thank Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and our outstanding Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their excellent work."

“The newly released Epi Data Brief on the dangers of binge drinking is informative,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Disability Services, I compliment DOHMH for establishing wise partnerships with community groups and health professionals.  These partnerships have helped to highlight effective interventions aimed at discouraging underage drinking and binge drinking.  The City Council will continue to cooperate with DOHMH to make further progress.”

Reducing Excessive Drinking

More than 20 percent of New Yorkers have been harmed because of someone else’s drinking. Earlier this year, the Health Department expanded a successful ad campaign on the dangers of excessive drinking. The campaign reminded New Yorkers that “just one more drink” can hurt, and called on friends of excessive drinkers to “cut off” their friends before drinking one too many. Available in Spanish and English online and in various print media outlets, this campaign aligned with the City’s Vision Zero initiative by reminding New Yorkers that their choices matter. Excessive drinking puts road users at risk for serious injury – whether they are behind the wheel, riding a bicycle, or walking. A survey of New Yorkers after the campaign showed that 48 percent recalled the campaign messages, and 74 percent of them said they took action as a result; they took taxis or got a ride from a designated driver; they consumed less alcohol when drinking; and they talked to a friend who was drinking too much.

One in 12 hospitalizations in NYC is alcohol-related. The Health Department has been educating health care providers to raise their awareness about the importance of screening and counseling their patients for alcohol misuse, an intervention that has shown to reduce excessive drinking. Earlier this year, the department issued guidance for health professionals on how to address alcohol and drug use in primary care settings.

The Health Department also provides data and other informational materials and supports community-based efforts to prevent underage drinking in neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Health Department offers the following tips for New Yorkers:

  • If you choose to drink alcohol, pace yourself.
  • Eat before consuming alcohol and snack throughout the evening.
  • Be conscious of how much alcohol you consume.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including water.
  • Talk to your primary care provider about your drinking
  • Help keep your friends safe when drinking; talk to them about cutting back if they drink excessively

The City has made mental health awareness and access to services a top priority. With ThriveNYC, an unprecedented set of 54 initiatives led by First Lady Chirlane McCray, the Health Department is raising awareness about the need to seek help while increasing access to mental health services across the city.

More information on excessive drinking and resources for New Yorkers.

For more information on ThriveNYC, visit nyc.gov/thrivenyc.

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MEDIA CONTACT: 
Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov, (347) 396-4177