Alcohol

Forty Percent of Young Men Say They Sometimes Drink Too Much

Women much less likely than men to say they drink more than they should at times

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- About one in five American drinkers report that they sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than they should, according to Gallup's annual poll on alcohol consumption. Younger men (those under the age of 30) are much more likely than older men or women of any age to say they occasionally consume too much alcohol. Whether drinkers sometimes drink too much is related to how frequently they drink, as well as to their preferred alcoholic beverage. Beer drinkers (who tend to be younger) are more likely than wine or liquor drinkers to say they sometimes drink too much.

Overall Results and Trends

According to the July 12-15, 2007 poll, nearly two in three Americans (64%) say they drink alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, or liquor on occasion, and 36% say they totally abstain from alcohol. Of those who drink, 22% say they sometimes drink more than they should, while more than three in four Americans (77%) say they do not overindulge.

Since 1978, when Gallup first asked this question, reports of occasional over drinking has averaged 25%, with a high of 35% in 1989 and a low of 20% in 2001. The large majority of drinkers have consistently said they do not drink too much.

In recent years, the percentage of drinkers who say they sometimes drink more than they should has not shown much change -- ranging between 21% and 25%. Given this stability, Gallup combined the results of its past four surveys, conducted from July 2004 through July 2007, to better understand which groups of Americans are more likely than others to report over drinking.

Younger vs. Older, Men vs. Women

Men, particularly those under the age of 30, are likely to say they sometimes drink more than they should -- though a majority of people in this group still say they never drink too much.

Overall, 29% of male drinkers say they occasionally drink too much, nearly double that of women (16%).

Additionally, 31% of all drinkers aged 18 to 29 say they sometimes drink more than they should. This percentage is similar to the 28% for those aged 30 to 49, but lower than the 17% for those aged 50 to 64 and 9% for those aged 65 and older.

Do you sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than you think you should?
Results by Gender and Age
2004-2007 Aggregate

Based on those who drink alcohol on occasion

Yes

No

%

%

Men

29

71

Women

16

84

 

 

18- to 29-year-olds

31

69

30- to 49-year-olds

28

72

50- to 64-year-olds

17

83

65 years and older

9

91

Among the combined age and gender groups, 40% of male drinkers between the ages of 18 and 29 say they sometimes drink more than they should. This percentage decreases to 34% among men aged 30 to 49, 22% among men aged 50 to 64, and only 14% among men aged 65 and older. By comparison, about one in five female drinkers under age 50 say they sometimes drink too much, compared with 11% of women aged 50 to 64, and just 4% of women aged 65 and older.

Do you sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than you think you should?
Results by Combined Gender and Age Groups
2004-2007 Aggregate

Based on those who drink alcohol on occasion

Yes

No

%

%

Men, aged 18 to 29

40

60

Men, aged 30 to 49

34

65

Men, aged 50 to 64

22

77

Men, aged 65 and older

14

86

 

 

Women, aged 18 to 29

22

78

Women, aged 30 to 49

20

80

Women, aged 50 to 64

11

88

Women, aged 65 and older

4

96

Alcohol Consumption Habits

One of the questions Gallup asks annually is if drinkers most often consume beer, liquor, or wine. Those who say they most often drink beer are more likely than those who prefer liquor or wine to say they sometimes drink more than they should. Thirty-two percent of those who most prefer beer say this, compared with 21% of liquor drinkers and 14% of wine drinkers. This is presumably because younger drinkers are more likely to report over drinking and also to prefer drinking beer over wine or liquor.

Do you sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than you think you should?
Results by Preference in Alcoholic Beverages
2004-2007 Aggregate

Based on those who drink alcohol on occasion

Yes

No

%

%

Most often drink beer

32

68

Most often drink liquor

21

79

Most often drink wine

14

86

Gallup also asks drinkers to specify the total number of alcoholic beverages they have had in the past seven days. Those who have indulged in a greater number of drinks in the past week are substantially more likely than those who consume less to say they drink too much at times.

Do you sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than you think you should?
Results by Number of Alcoholic Drinks Consumed in Past Week
2004-2007 Aggregate

Based on those who drink alcohol on occasion

Yes

No

%

%

None

7

93

1 to 10 drinks

28

71

More than 11 drinks

49

51

Daily drinkers -- those who say they drank alcohol in the past 24 hours -- are more likely than those who drink less often to say they occasionally drink more than they should. Thirty-four percent of those who consumed alcohol in the past 24 hours say they sometimes drink too much, compared with 22% of those who drank in the past two to seven days, and 11% of those who have not had a drink in the past week.

Do you sometimes drink more alcoholic beverages than you think you should?
Results by Time of Last Alcoholic Drink
2004-2007 Aggregate
Based on those who drink alcohol on occasion

Yes

No

%

%

With the past 24 hours

34

66

Up to a week ago

22

78

More than a week ago

11

89

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 2,544 national adults who say they drink alcoholic beverages on occasion, aged 18 and older, conducted across four polls from July 2004 through July 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī4 percentage points for any individual survey conducted over this period of time. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28282/Forty-Percent-Young-Men-Say-They-Sometimes-Drink-Too-Much.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030