Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Alcohol - Adult Heavy Drinking

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

Adult heavy drinking prevalence has been more-or-less constant since 2005. Heavy drinking prevalence is lower among adults in New Mexico than in the U.S. overall.

Heavy Drinking (past 30 days) by County, New Mexico, 2018-2020

Heavy drinking was most prevalent among adults in the 25-64 year age group, with 4.9% of adults in this group reporting past-month heavy drinking. New Mexico men were somewhat more likely to report chronic drinking than women (5.2% vs 3.7%); and American Indian females had the highest reported rate of heavy drinking (5.6%) followed by White and Hispanic males (5.2%) and White females (4.9%). Meanwhile, it is notable that American Indian males, who have the highest rates of alcohol-related chronic disease death, once again, as in past years, have the lowest reported heavy drinking rates. The lack of congruence between heavy drinking rates and chronic disease death rates might suggest differences in the patterns of heavy drinking between different population groups. Perhaps, for example, the smaller proportion of the American Indian population that drinks heavily tends to drink more heavily (hence with more lethal effect) than heavy drinkers in other race/ethnic groups. On the other hand, it is also possible that this low heavy drinking rate is an artifact of survey methods. Ongoing efforts are being made to improve American Indian representation in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). American Indian male binge drinking rates were lower than the binge drinking rates for males in other race/ethnic groups in 2010.
Heavy drinking rates were highest in Curry, Torrance and Luna counties; and substantially lower in counties that have among the highest rates of alcohol-related chronic disease death rates (e.g., McKinley, Rio Arriba, Cibola).

Heavy Drinking (past 30 days) by U.S. States, 2020

Why Is This Important?

Heavy drinking (defined as having more than 2 drinks/day, for males; and more than one drink/day, for females) is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that can lead to alcohol-related chronic disease and death. According to the latest estimates from the CDC, 100% of numerous chronic disease conditions (e.g., alcoholic liver disease, alcohol dependence syndrome), and a significant proportion of many other conditions (e.g., unspecified liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis) are alcohol-related. For each of these causes, it is chronic heavy drinking (as opposed to acute episodic, or binge drinking) that is considered primarily responsible for the incidence and progression of alcohol-related chronic disease. Heavy drinking is also associated with a wide range of other social problems, including alcoholism (also known as alcohol dependence), domestic violence and family disruption.


Heavy drinking is defined as regularly consuming more than 2 drinks per day for men or more than 1 drink per day for women

Data Sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.
  • U.S. data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Prevalence and Trends Data.

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Number of New Mexican adults (ages 18 and over) from the BRFSS who reported heavy drinking in the past 30 days.
Denominator:Number of New Mexican adults (ages 18 and over) from BRFSS.

Other Objectives

Substance Abuse Epidemiology Report Indicator

Available Services

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals should screen all adult patients and counsel those who drink too much to drink less. This is called alcohol screening and brief intervention (A-SBI). A-SBI can reduce how much alcohol a person drinks on an occasion by 25%. A-SBI is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Community Guide), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). For more information on A-SBI, please the CDC vital signs website:

More Resources

The New Mexico Department of Health Substance Abuse Epidemiology Section has New Mexico-specific reports, resources and publications, available at: CDC Alcohol Program has fact sheets, online tool kits, data and recently published literature, available at: The CDC also publishes the Prevention Status Reports (PSR), which highlight, for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the status of public health policies and practices designed to address important public health problems and concerns. The 2013 PSR for excessive alcohol use can be found at: The Community Preventive Services Task Force reviews research and makes recommendations to help communities answer the question "what works?" Community Guide recommendations for preventing excessive alcohol consumption can be found at:

Indicator Data Last Updated On 03/25/2022, Published on 03/05/2022
Substance Use Epidemiology, Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 S. Saint Francis Drive, Room N-1103, Santa Fe, NM, 87502. Contact Annaliese Mayette, Alcohol Epidemiologist, by telephone at (505) 476-1788 or email to