Although alcohol misuse has decreased over the years, it is still the most commonly used substance in Iowa. Therefore, making underage drinking, heavy drinkers, and adult binge drinkers a concern for Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services (BHTS) staff and Prevention staff. In Iowa, binge drinking is the most common form of alcohol consumption.

The definition of binge drinking by SAMHSA:

5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (within a couple of hours of each other).

Health in Iowa Annual Report data provides a look at Iowa’s consumption of alcohol.

  • 11.4% of Iowans reported drinking, on average, five or more drinks per day.
  • 5.9% of all Iowa respondents are heavy drinkers.
  • 19.8% of all adult Iowans, had at least 1 binge-drinking episode in the last 30 days.

Most concerning is that Iowa’s 19.8% is well above the nation’s median of 16.3%. Iowa places 6th in the highest prevalence of reported binge drinking among the states.

Most importantly, when the brain is exposed to any amount of alcohol or other drugs, substance use disorders develop. Alcohol affects each person differently, however. Making it difficult to know when someone may develop an addiction. Alcohol changes the brain structurally and chemically. When this occurs, the pleasure-seeking part of the brain overriding other commands. Compelling a person with an alcohol use disorder to continue drinking, even when it causes further harm. Sieda BHTS’ mission is to reduce substance abuse and multi-occurring issues through prevention and treatment services. How can you know if alcohol has taken control of you or someone you know? Are you drinking too much?

Answer these questions with “yes” or “no”:
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
  • Does your drinking worry your family?
  • Do you ever forget what you did while you were drinking?
  • Do you get headaches or a hang-over after you’ve been drinking?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, alcohol could be a problem. Talk with your doctor or reach out to Sieda BHTS at 641-683-6747. Sieda BHTS serves across 10 counties; find a location. If you recognize these symptoms in you or someone you know, seek help. But no matter what, set limits and goals to reduce any risk. Check out this helpful publication; How to Cut Down on Your Drinking.


National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), How to Cut Down on Your Drinking

Health in Iowa Annual Report from the Iowa 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey

Iowa Department of Public Health, Your Life Iowa, About Alcohol