N. Dakota excels in bingeing, Alaskans in drug use

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

WASHINGTON - North Dakota has the highest rate of binge drinking in the country, while Alaska has the highest rate of illegal drug use, says a government study released Monday.

In North Dakota, 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.

Alaska's estimated rate of binge drinking was 23 percent.

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.

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