Jan 25, 2024 - Health

Binge drinking rates are higher in Iowa than other states

Share of adults who reportedly binge or drink alcohol in excess in 2022, by state
Data: United Health Foundation; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Iowa continues to have some of the highest excessive drinking rates in the country.

Why it matters: While any drinking can create risks, binge drinking is linked with compromised immune systems, chronic disease and memory and learning problems.

Driving the news: The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services released a report last November based on 2022 data showing the state is fourth-highest in the U.S. for binge drinking and sixth-highest for heavy drinking.

Details: The CDC categorizes binge drinking as more than four drinks for women or five for men in one sitting.

  • Heavy drinking is more than eight drinks per week for women or 15 for men.

By the numbers: About 23% of Iowans reported binge or excessive drinking in 2022, according to the CDC.

  • Binge drinking was highest among household incomes of between $50,000-$74,999, while heavy drinking was highest among households earning more than $75,000.
  • Binge drinking was also more prevalent among Iowa men (29%) compared to women (14%).

Flashback: While the pandemic resulted in record levels of statewide alcohol sales, excessive drinking has historically been more prevalent in Iowa and in the Midwest.

  • The state noted as far back as 2007 that residents binge drink at "significantly higher" rates than in the rest of the U.S.

The big picture: Reasons vary for why Midwesterners tend to drink more, including our cold climate, college and rural drinking culture and German and Scandinavian roots.

Be smart: A 2020 Iowa report shows that after six months of substance use treatment, only 45% of people still used alcohol.

  • But many people are hesitant to seek help themselves or recognize they have a problem.

How to get help: The new 988 line is there to help anyone with a crisis and YourLife Iowa provides addiction support.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more