Binge drinking is a serious but preventable public health problem. Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.
Binge drinking is associated with risky behaviors, serious injuries, a number of diseases, substance misuse, and death. It is also associated with an increased risk of alcohol use disorder.
Definition: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) define binge drinking as drinking enough alcohol to have a blood alcohol concertation (BAC) equal to or above 0.08%. This translates into consuming 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women with a two-hour period.
Frequency: In the US one in six adults binge drinks, with 25% consuming at least eight drinks during a binge occasion.4 Over 90% of US adults who drink excessively report binge drinking. In 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that about 66 million, 24% of the US population (age 12 and over), reported binge drinking during the past month. Overall, 17 billion total binge drinks are consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per adult who binge drinks.
Who is at Risk?
Special groups at Risk:
Risks Associated with Binge Drinking:
Cost Associated with Binge Drinking:
Excessive drinking cost the US $249 billion dollars in 2010, or $2.05 per drink. Binge drinking accounted for 77% of these costs, or $191 billion. These costs include lost work productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses.
How do we prevent binge drinking?
The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms. Recommended strategies include:
The Task Force also recommends screening and counseling for alcohol misuse in primary care settings.
The NIAAA website, “NIAAA Rethinking Drinking” strategies to stop binge drinking, provides the following recommendations:
There is a significant difference between having a beer or two and consuming enough alcohol at to be over the legal limit within 2 hours. Binge drinking places individuals at increased short-term and long-term risks for injury, death, and disease. While anyone who engages in binge drinking is as risk, certain groups like women, college students, pre-teens, and the elderly represent individuals at increased risk. Fortunately, there are a number of evidence-based intervention programs and strategies targeting individuals with issues related to binge drinking.