National data shows that more Vermonters (ages 12 and up) are drinking alcohol compared to the country overall and the number of Vermonters binge drinking is also higher than in the country overall.
National data also shows that more Vermont youth and young adults are drinking alcohol compared to the country overall. People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at 21.
It is important to look at the reasons Vermonters are drinking more frequently and drinking more alcohol per sitting than other Americans. The Health Department is monitoring how our efforts are making a positive difference with young people drinking underage, and to encourage responsible drinking among legal age Vermonters.
A standard drink contains 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. A standard drink is:
- 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
- 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
- 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
- 1.5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
Alcohol by volume (ABV) affects drinking recommendations. ABV is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage (expressed as a volume percent). To calculate drink equivalents, multiply the volume in ounces by the alcohol content in percent and divide by 0.6 ounces of alcohol per drink-equivalent.
|Beer, beer coolers, and malt beverages|
|12 fl oz at 4.2% alcohol||0.8|
|12 fl oz at 5% alcohol (reference beverage)||1|
|16 fl oz at 5% alcohol||1.3|
|12 fl oz at 7% alcohol||1.4|
|12 fl oz at 9% alcohol||1.8|
|5 fl oz at 12% alcohol (reference beverage)||1|
|9 fl oz at 12% alcohol||1.8|
|5 fl oz at 15% alcohol||1.3|
|5 fl oz at 17% alcohol||1.4|
|1.5 fl oz 80 proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol) (reference beverage)||1|
Moderate drinking is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. It is not recommended that people who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.
Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.
Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, is defined as consuming
- For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion.
- For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion.
Heavy drinking is defined as consuming
- For women, 8 or more drinks per week.
- For men, 15 or more drinks per week.
There are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:
- Younger than age 21.
- Pregnant or may be pregnant.
- Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
- Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
- With certain medical conditions.
- In recovery.
Short-Term Health Risks
Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:
- Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
- Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.
Long-Term Health Risks
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
- Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
- Alcohol dependence, or addiction.
By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.
Here are some tips if you are choosing to drink alcohol:
- Drink in moderation.
- Drink a lot of water - before, during, and after drinking alcohol.
- Eat - especially foods high in protein.
- Space out drinks during a night out - the average person breaks down 1 drink an hour.
- Take this screening to see if your drinking habits are safe, risky or harmful
See Data and Reports for more information on alcohol use, abuse, and dependence in Vermont.
See How We Are Doing to learn more about goals and outcomes being tracked in Vermont.