Healthy Wisconsin: Alcohol

Heavy and binge drinking affects many in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin’s identity includes tailgating, community festivals and county fairs. These treasured traditions bring our friends and families together, and drinking alcohol is and has been a big part of Wisconsin culture. Unfortunately, our alcohol use in Wisconsin has been steadily increasing. Many adults in Wisconsin are binge drinking (drinking more than five drinks in one sitting for men and more than four for women) more than they were ten years ago, and our state continues to rank among the worst in the nation for heavy drinking (drinking more than two drinks a day for men and more than one a day for women).

We know binge drinking takes a toll on our communities, costing Wisconsin billions of dollars in rising health care costs and time off from work. It also harms our youth. Underage drinking isn’t just illegal; drinking alcohol early in life can make young people more likely to misuse prescription drugs and opioids, starting a dangerous cycle of illness and addiction.

Our goals

We can work to reduce heavy drinking, binge drinking and alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin.

What's being done

For more information on the Healthy Wisconsin Action Team’s strategies for reducing heavy drinking and alcohol-related deaths by 2020, download the Alcohol report.

ACEs and alcohol

Our health isn’t determined by genetics alone. Our choices and experiences—especially the experiences we have in childhood—can have a powerful impact on our long-term health. Abuse, neglect and other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are linked to poorer health and risky behaviors such as substance abuse, and the more ACEs a person has, the higher that risk becomes.

In Wisconsin, a little more than half of all adults have at least one ACE. But among our state’s heavy and binge drinkers, the likelihood of having one ACE rises to more than three in five adults. Adults with one or more ACE are more likely to have been binge drinking in the past 30 days than adults with no ACEs.

Alcohol may also contribute to a multigenerational cycle of ACEs and their associated health risks within families and communities, as the children of substance abusers are exposed to heavy or binge drinking in the home.

Last Revised: July 20, 2021