What is Binge Drinking?

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Binge drinking is a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.

This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.

  • Approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults over age 25 years.
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is 2 times the prevalence among women.
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 years in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • About 75% of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • The proportion of current drinkers that binge is highest in the 18- to 20-year-old group (51%).

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including but not limited to

  • Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning).
  • Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence).
  • Alcohol poisoning.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Unintended pregnancy.
  • Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Liver disease.
  • Neurological damage.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Poor control of diabetes.

Evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms include

  • Increasing alcoholic beverage costs and excise taxes.
  • Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcoholic beverages in a given area.
  • Consistent enforcement of laws against underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving.
  • Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse.
Source: Centers for Disease Control, Neighborhood Link
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