County alcohol data: 17% of locals binge drink

Clark County residents like their booze.

Clark County and the state have higher drinking rates and heavy drinking rates than the national average, according to a new analysis of county-level drinking patterns in the U.S.

Locally, however, we have fewer binge drinkers than the national average, according to the analysis.

The analysis was performed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers found that Americans are more likely to be heavy drinkers and binge drinkers today than in recent years, due largely to the rising rates of drinking among women.

In 2012, 8.2 percent of all Americans were considered heavy drinkers (exceeding an average of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men in the past month) and 18.3 percent were binge drinkers (consuming four drinks or more for women and five drinks or more for men in a single occasion at least once in the past month).

In Clark County, 60.9 percent of residents had consumed alcohol in the previous month. Nearly 62 percent of residents in Washington and 56 percent across the country drank alcohol.

The national average for heavy drinking is 8.2 percent. In Clark County, 8.6 percent of residents are heavy drinkers, as are 9.6 percent of people statewide.

In Clark County, 17.5 percent of residents are binge drinkers, compared with 18.1 percent statewide and 18.3 percent nationally.

San Juan County had the highest rates in each category in Washington: 73.1 percent alcohol use, 21.4 percent binge drinking and 15.5 percent heavy drinking.

Nationwide, women showed a much faster escalation in binge drinking than men, with rates rising 17.5 percent between 2005 and 2012. During that same time, binge drinking rates among men increased 4.9 percent.

“We are seeing some very alarming trends in alcohol overconsumption, especially among women,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a lead author of the study and professor at UW institute, in a news release. “We also can’t ignore the fact that in many U.S. counties a quarter of the people, or more, are binge drinkers.”

In Clark County, 12.9 percent of women binge drink and 8 percent are heavy drinkers, according to the analysis.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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