Midwest Has Most Binge Drinking

College drinking graphic. Binge drinking, alcohol abuse, alcoholism.
AP
Utah, Oregon and states in the deep South have the lowest rates of binge drinking in the country, while states in the Midwest and Great Plains have some of the highest rates, says a government study released Monday.

The problem was most prevalent in North Dakota, where an estimated 31 percent of residents 12 and older had engaged in binge drinking, according to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Binge use was defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the last 30 days.

North Dakota's rate was nearly double the 16 percent rate for Utah, which had the lowest binge drinking rate in the nation, the survey found. Utah has a large Mormon population, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are forbidden to drink.

The survey builds on national data released last September which found that nearly 23 percent of all U.S. residents had gone on drinking binges.

Utah also had the lowest rate of illegal drug use among residents 12 and older: About 6 percent had used illicit drugs in the past month. That was half the 12 percent rate in Alaska, which was the highest in the country. The national average was just over 8 percent.

"While we as a nation are making overall progress in reducing illicit drug use among youth, it is clear from the findings that illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use vary substantially among states and regions," said Charles Curie, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Many Southern states had rates under 20 percent for binge drinking, while the rate in Oregon was 20.5 percent. Oregon, though, ranked among the top states for prevalence of marijuana use: Nearly 9 percent of residents age 12 and older had used marijuana in the last month.

Oregon and other states that showed high marijuana use in the survey, including Colorado, Montana, Maine and Vermont, have laws that allow people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor's recommendation.

The state with the highest rate, New Hampshire at 10 percent, does not have such a law. Marijuana use was lowest in Utah at 4 percent.

National results released in September found that fewer American youths were using marijuana, LSD and Ecstasy, but more were abusing prescription drugs. The survey also found that youths and young adults were more aware of the risks of using pot.