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Health Indicator Report of Alcohol - Adult Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking (defined as having more than 2 drinks/day, for males; and more than one drink/day, for females) is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that can lead to alcohol-related chronic disease and death. According to the latest estimates from the CDC, 100% of numerous chronic disease conditions (e.g., alcoholic liver disease, alcohol dependence syndrome), and a significant proportion of many other conditions (e.g., unspecified liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis) are alcohol-related. For each of these causes, it is chronic heavy drinking (as opposed to acute episodic, or binge drinking) that is considered primarily responsible for the incidence and progression of alcohol-related chronic disease. Heavy drinking is also associated with a wide range of other social problems, including alcoholism (also known as alcohol dependence), domestic violence and family disruption.
Heavy drinking was most prevalent among adults in the 25-64 year age group, with 4.9% of adults in this group reporting past-month heavy drinking. New Mexico men were somewhat more likely to report chronic drinking than women (5.2% vs 3.7%); and American Indian females had the highest reported rate of heavy drinking (5.6%) followed by White and Hispanic males (5.2%) and White females (4.9%). Meanwhile, it is notable that American Indian males, who have the highest rates of alcohol-related chronic disease death, once again, as in past years, have the lowest reported heavy drinking rates. The lack of congruence between heavy drinking rates and chronic disease death rates might suggest differences in the patterns of heavy drinking between different population groups. Perhaps, for example, the smaller proportion of the American Indian population that drinks heavily tends to drink more heavily (hence with more lethal effect) than heavy drinkers in other race/ethnic groups. On the other hand, it is also possible that this low heavy drinking rate is an artifact of survey methods. Ongoing efforts are being made to improve American Indian representation in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). American Indian male binge drinking rates were lower than the binge drinking rates for males in other race/ethnic groups in 2010.


**Excluded due to small number of respondents (< 50) in population

Data Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.

Data Interpretation Issues

Data for this indicator report are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing survey of adults regarding their health-related behaviors, health conditions, and preventive services. Data are collected in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories. Responses have been weighted to reflect the New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership. The survey is conducted using scientific telephone survey methods for landline and cellular phones (with cellular since 2011). The landline phone portion of the survey excludes adults living in group quarters such as college dormitories, nursing homes, military barracks, and prisons. The cellular phone portion of the survey includes adult students living in college dormitories but excludes other group quarters. Beginning with 2011, the BRFSS updated its surveillance methods by adding in calls to cell phones and changing its weighting methods. These changes improve BRFSS' ability to take into account the increasing proportion of U.S. adults using only cellular telephones as well as to adjust survey data to improve the representativeness of the estimates generated from the survey. Results have been adjusted for the probability of selection of the respondent, and have been weighted to the adult population by age, gender, phone type, detailed race/ethnicity, renter/owner, education, marital status, and geographic area. Lastly and importantly, these changes mean that the data from years prior to 2011 are not directly comparable to data from 2011 and beyond. Please see the [ BRFSS Method Change Factsheet]. The "missing" and "don't know" responses are removed before calculating a percentage.


Heavy drinking is defined as regularly consuming more than 2 drinks per day for men or more than 1 drink per day for women


Number of New Mexican adults (ages 18 and over) from the BRFSS who reported heavy drinking in the past 30 days.


Number of New Mexican adults (ages 18 and over) from BRFSS.

Other Objectives

Substance Abuse Epidemiology Report Indicator

Available Services

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals should screen all adult patients and counsel those who drink too much to drink less. This is called alcohol screening and brief intervention (A-SBI). A-SBI can reduce how much alcohol a person drinks on an occasion by 25%. A-SBI is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Community Guide), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). For more information on A-SBI, please the CDC vital signs website:
Page Content Updated On 03/18/2019, Published on 03/19/2019
The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Wed, 16 June 2021 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Mar 2019 09:23:47 MDT