New York State Department of Health Encourages New Yorkers to Reduce Alcohol Consumption In the New Year

New Report Found One in Six Adults Reported Excessive Alcohol Use

Reducing or Removing Alcohol Leads to Improved Mental and Physical Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 29, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health released a new report on the dangers that come with binge and heavy drinking and encourages more New Yorkers to resolve to reduce their alcohol consumption in 2024. The New Year is a perfect time to explore the immediate and long-term positive health benefits associated with drinking less alcohol.

"Excessive and binge drinking is dangerous and harmful, reducing or eliminating alcohol can have immense positive health benefits," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Drinking less can help improve sleep, help you achieve a healthy weight, and improve your mental and physical health now and later in life. I hope in the New Year, more people choose to reduce their alcohol consumption and that those who struggle with their alcohol use take advantage of the many resources available to help."

New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, "Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States, and while it can be consumed safely, excessive or binge drinking can result in negative health effects, both in the short-term and long-term. This can include a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and liver disease, and can also lead to an alcohol use disorder in some cases. For individuals who drink alcohol, it is important to be aware of these potential risks, and drink responsibly during the holidays and beyond."

Binge drinking and heavy drinking are two patterns of excessive alcohol use. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per-week for women and 15 or more drinks per-week for men.

The latest key findings from the Department's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) report show one in six adults (16.4 percent) in New York demonstrated excessive alcohol use in the form of either binge or heavy drinking, with an estimated 14.9 percent of adults reporting binge drinking and 5.5 percent reporting heavy drinking. The good news is the prevalence of heavy drinking decreased from 6.5 percent in 2020 to 5.5 percent in 2021.

Binge and heavy drinking are seen across all population groups, but the BRFSS report found that the prevalence of binge and heavy drinking were more commonly reported in men, especially those who are younger than 35 years of age, and adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.

Other key findings include the following:

  • White, non-Hispanic adults reported higher rates of binge (16.6 percent) and heavy drinking (7.1 percent) when compared to adults representing other racial and ethnic groups.
  • The prevalence of binge and heavy drinking were significantly higher in adults who reported frequent mental distress (19.6 percent and 9 percent, respectively).
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among adults who reported currently smoking (28.2 percent) was more than double the prevalence reported among those who did not currently smoke (13.2 percent), and the prevalence of heavy drinking was almost three times greater among people who smoked (12.1 percent) as compared to people who did not smoke (4.6 percent).

Excessive alcohol use is one of the leading causes of preventable and premature deaths in the U.S., responsible for more than 6,700 deaths annually in New York, and more than 140,000 deaths nationwide.

Excessive drinking is also associated with both short-term and long-term health outcomes. Short-term outcomes include unintentional injuries and violence. Long-term health impacts include increased risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, liver disease, and other digestive diseases. An estimated 3.2 percent of all cancer deaths in New York State are also attributable to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol-related harms are not evenly distributed, with low-income communities and communities of color experiencing greater consequences from excessive alcohol use.

Individuals who are interested in reducing their alcohol use can visit this CDC tool to check their drinking and make a personalized plan for drinking less.

Those who need help finding treatment for alcohol or others substance dependence can talk to their primary care provider or can find treatment and prevention resources on the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports website here. Many resources, including medications, can help.

For more information related to excessive alcohol use and prevention, visit the Department's website here or contact the NYS Alcohol Surveillance and Epidemiology Program at