Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States.

 Alcohol misuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that negatively impacts a person’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. Excessive alcohol use describes behaviors including binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any alcohol use by people under 21 years or pregnant women.

Binge Drinking

In the most recent New York State (NYS) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 25% of adults in Madison County reported binge drinking (compared to 18% of NYS adults). Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time for men and the consumption of 4 or more within a short period of time for women.

Youth Alcohol Use

In the 2018 Madison County Teen Assessment Project (TAP) Report, 42% of high school students have used alcohol; up from 36% in 2014.

Alcohol & Pregnancy 

No amount of alcohol is considered safe to consume while pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy affects the development of babies’ brains, bodies, and organs. The range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that may occur as a result of alcohol consumption is referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

Data on alcohol consumption among pregnant women in Madison County is currently unavailable. In a national study conducted by the CDC, approximately 14% of pregnant women drank at least one alcoholic beverage during their pregnancy and nearly 5% reported binge drinking (4 or more alcoholic beverages in a 2-3 hour timeframe).

Health Effects 

There are immediate health consequences to alcohol consumption, including motor vehicle collisions. There has been a downward trend in alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths. The percentage of driving deaths that involve alcohol are about the same for Madison County and New York State residents (21%).

Consuming alcohol temporarily changes how the brain works by altering mood and behaviors – especially your coordination and ability to make decisions. Consuming too much alcohol at one time or over time can cause serious health consequences, including:

  • The development of:
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • High blood pressure
    • Liver inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis)
    • Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis
    • Steatosis (presence of fat in the liver)
    • A weakened immune system and subsequent infections or diseases
  • Increased risk of:
    • Stroke
    • Pancreatitis
    • Heart disease
    • Cancer (head & neck, esophageal, liver, breast, colorectal)


  1.  New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports.