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Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults (and sample adults age 18 to 44 in 1991), ALCDRINKEV reports whether the person ever had at least one drink of any kind of alcohol, including beer, wine, wine coolers, liquors such as vodka, whiskey, or rum, mixed drinks or cocktails with alcohol, or any other type of alcoholic drink in their entire life.

ALCDRINKEV is collected as part of the rotating core of NHIS alcohol use questions, introduced in 2020 and fielded every other year. In addition to ALCDRINKEV, the NHIS alcohol use rotating core also collects the following variables:

  • ALCANYNO: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Number of units
  • ALCANYNOE: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Edited number of units
  • ALCANYTP: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Time period
  • ALCANYTPE: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Edited time period
  • ALCDAYSWK: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Days per week
  • ALCDAYSYR: Frequency drank alcohol in past year: Days in past year
  • ALCAMT: Average number of drinks on days drank
  • ALC1YR: Ever had 12+ drinks in any one year
  • ALCSTAT1:Alcohol drinking status: Recode
  • ALCEV30D: Had at least 1+ drinks, past 30 days
  • ALC5UPOCC30D: Occasions had 5+ drinks in a row, past 30 days
  • ALCDRKHVY12M: Times had 4+/5+ drinks on an occasion, past year
  • MDALCADV: Health provider gave advice on alcohol, past 12 months
  • ALCADVISE: Health professional has advised the sample adult to stop or cut down on drinking, in the last 12 months

ALCDRINKEV was also part of a 1991 supplement on drug and alcohol use, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The supplement was self-administered. It included the questions on the types and frequency of illegal substances, and age at first use. For related variables, please use the IPUMS NHIS search function and drop-down menus.


Questionnaire design changes introduced in 2019 limit comparability with earlier years. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 1991: Sample adults age 18-44.
  • 2020 2022: Sample adults 18+.


  • 1991, 2020, 2022