National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III)


The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III) was sponsored, designed and directed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The NESARC-III is cross-sectional, based on a nationally representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 18 years and older. Fieldwork was conducted by Westat through a contract under the data collection authorization of Title 42 USC 285n. Utilizing the NIAAA Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule (AUDADIS-5), the NESARC-III collected information on alcohol and drug use and disorders, related risk factors, and associated physical and mental disabilities. In addition, DNA was obtained through saliva samples. The final sample size was 36,309 and included persons living in households and select noninstitutional group quarters.

Objectives and content areas of the NESARC-III, the fourth national survey conducted by NIAAA, are similar to those of the three prior NIAAA surveys, except for the NESARC-III’s collection of saliva samples. Prior NIAAA national surveys included the 1988 Alcohol Supplement of the National Household Interview Survey (fielded by the National Center for Health Statistics), the 1991-1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey, the 2001-2002 Wave 1 NESARC, and the 2004-2005 Wave 2 NESARC.


The NESARC-III contains data from a well-characterized population sample. As such, these data constitute an important scientific resource. It is the view of the NIAAA that their full value can only be realized if they are made available, under appropriate terms and conditions, in a timely manner to the largest possible number of qualified investigators.

Data sets distributed under this policy include only “limited access data”, i.e., records with personal identifiers and other variables that might enable individual participants to be identified, such as birth date, removed or otherwise modified. Because it may still be possible to combine the limited access data with other publicly available data and thereby potentially identify individual participants, these data sets are not truly anonymous. They are, therefore, only provided to investigators who agree in advance to adhere to established policies for distribution.

Limited access data sets are available for the NIAAA-conducted NESARC-III (see instructions for obtaining NESARC-III limited access data). For the purpose of this policy, NESARC-III data is defined as phenotypic information only collected from study participants. NESARC-III genetic data will be available around spring/summer of 2020 and information on accessing those data will be posted at that time.