OHA launches Rethink the Drink campaign

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Drinking is a part of our culture and celebrations, and we take pride in our Oregon-made beer, wine and spirits. But heavy drinking and binge drinking carry a cost. Excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in Oregon and costs every person in the state $1,100 per year from expenses associated with health care, automobile crashes and lost productivity at work. More than one in five people in Oregon drink excessively, and it’s not only a problem for young people. People in their 30s and 40s binge drink at nearly the same rates as people in their 20s. In response, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) launched the Rethink the Drink campaign in collaboration with community partners. The campaign focuses on building healthier communities by calling attention to health problems caused by excessive alcohol use.

Elevated health risks associated with excessive drinking

“We invite people in Oregon to consider the role of alcohol in their own lives and communities,” said Rebecca Garza, health promotion strategist at OHA. “Alcohol has a complex history that is associated with cultural norms and celebrations that have been around for thousands of years, and there are also a lot of health problems and trauma associated with the harms of excessive drinking.”

More than 2,000* Oregonians die each year from excessive alcohol use, three times the number who die from overdoses of other drugs. In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), Oregon saw a 21% increase in deaths directly attributed to alcohol compared to the previous year.

“The pandemic played out differently for different people,” Garza said. “Some people who only drank socially may have drank less, but for others it became common to drink any time of day or by yourself.  We’ve heard from people in Oregon that they use alcohol to cope with daily life stresses, which were exasperated during the pandemic.”

Excessive drinking defined

Note: numbers are based on research for “cisgender” male/female populations. Cisgender means that the gender you identify with matches the sex assigned to you at birth. When it comes to gender nonconforming individuals, more research is needed to assess the impact of excessive drinking.

  • Heavy drinking – 15 drinks per week or more for a cisgender man or eight drinks or more per week for a cisgender woman
  • Binge drinking – when a cisgender man has 5 or more standard drinks in a couple hours or if a cisgender woman has four or more
  • VIDEO: How Many Drinks?

These types of drinking behaviors are common. Drinking less is better for your health than drinking more, and for some people, any alcohol is too much.

Rethink the Drink public awareness advertisements can be seen on television, radio, online and social media. Learn more about the campaign and find out how to get involved at www.rethinkthedrink.com.

SURVEY: If you have thoughts or experiences to share about alcohol use in your life or the lives of your family and friends, we would love to hear from you. If you’d like, please take a moment to submit your thoughts here. All responses are anonymous.


If you or someone you care about drinks alcohol excessively and needs help, talk with a doctor or health provider. Free and confidential resources are available:

*This data refers to deaths that are 100% attributable to alcohol, also called alcohol induced deaths. This category includes causes of death such as alcoholic liver disease, mental and behavioral disorders associated with alcohol dependency (harmful use, withdrawal syndrome, amnesic syndrome, and psychotic disorders) and poisonings (intentional and unintentional).