Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with many health and societal problems including chronic diseases, unintentional injuries, and violence. In 2010, the estimated economic cost of excessive drinking in the U.S. was $249 billion (Sacks et al., 2015).

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21 (CDC).

  • Binge drinking, the most common form of drinking, is defined as consuming five or more drinks during a single occasion for men or four or more drinks during a single occasion for women.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming fifteen or more drinks per week for men or eight or more drinks per week for women.
  • Most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent (Esser et al., 2014).
  • Underage drinking is considered a form of excessive drinking because it is both illegal and often involves consumption in quantities and settings that can lead to serious immediate and long-term consequences (CDC).

Community Preventive Services Task Force Findings

Summary Table

This summary of CPSTF findings to prevent excessive alcohol consumption can be used as a reference, included in presentations, or shared with colleagues.

Implementation Resources

Implementation Products

Alcohol Outlet Density Measurement Tools
Developed by CDC’s Alcohol Program

CDC Guide for Measuring Alcohol Outlet Density [PDF – 13.22 MB]
This guide discusses the importance of measuring alcohol outlet density and different approaches for doing so, along with their pros and cons. Contents include key issues that need to be considered before measuring alcohol outlet density, the steps involved in performing this public health surveillance activity, various approaches to measuring alcohol outlet density, and general guidance from CDC for measuring alcohol outlet density.

CDC Alcohol Outlet Density Surveillance Toolkit [PDF – 22.41 MB]
This toolkit, developed in partnership with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, provides steps for using several alcohol outlet density indicators for surveillance in states and local jurisdictions. It is a companion to the CDC Guide for Measuring Alcohol Outlet Density [PDF – PDF – 13.22 MB]. This toolkit provides analytic code, screenshots, and guiding questions to help teams accomplish the six steps outlined in the Guide for Measuring Alcohol Outlet Density. It also adds a seventh step on visualization, reporting, and communication.

Additional implementation resources from CDC’s Alcohol Program.

CDC’s Health Impact in 5 Years (HI-5) Initiative
HI-5 highlights non-clinical, community-wide approaches that have evidence reporting 1) positive health impacts, 2) results within five years, and 3) cost effectiveness and/or cost savings over the lifetime of the population or earlier. The website features links to implementation resources and success stories that can help communities get started.

Pricing Strategies for Alcohol Products

Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices [PDF – 2.12 MB]
Developed by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Tools

Alcohol Screening Tool
Developed by CDC’s Alcohol Program, this free, evidence-based tool allows adults to anonymously check their drinking, identify barriers and motivators for drinking less, and print or save a personalized change plan. The tool is an example of eSBI, which CPSTF recommends to reduce self-reported excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. It was developed as part of the Drink Less, Be Your Best campaign, which provides resources and support to help adults drink less.

Action Guides

Strategizer 55 – Regulating Alcohol Outlet Density: An Action Guide
Developed by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America in partnership with the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Strategizer 57: Reducing Alcohol-Related Harms Through Commercial Host Liability
Developed by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America in partnership with the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Presentations and Promotional Materials

Use these materials to share information about the CPSTF findings and Community Guide products with your community.

What Works Fact Sheets

Community Guide In Action: Stories from the Field

Community Guide News

Developed by The Community Guide in collaboration with CDC’s Alcohol Program

Media Outreach

CDC Media Release: Task Force Finds Commercial Liability an Effective Strategy to Reduce Alcohol-related Problems
Developed by The Community Guide in collaboration with CDC’s Alcohol Program

CDC Media Advisory About Maintaining Limits on Days and Hours of Sale: CDC Releases Two Reports on Excessive Alcohol Use and Related Harms
Developed by The Community Guide in collaboration with CDC’s Alcohol Program

Promotional Materials

Summary of Task Force Recommended Strategies: Evidence-Based Strategies to Prevent Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms [PDF – 71 kB]
Developed by The Community Guide in collaboration with CDC’s Alcohol Program

Slides and Presentations

Public Health Grand Rounds — Preventing Excessive Alcohol Use: What Public Health Can Do
Hosted by CDC