What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge Drinking

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.

1,2,3 Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.

This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.4 Most people who binge drink do not have a severe alcohol use disorder.1

Who binge drinks?

Data sources: CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2015.

  • One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. This results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker.5
  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years, but more than half of the total binge drinks are consumed by those aged 35 and older.5
  • Binge drinking is twice as common among men than among women. Four in five total binge drinks are consumed by men.5
  • Binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and higher educational levels. Binge drinkers with lower incomes and educational levels, however, consume more binge drinks per year.5
  • Over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.1
  • Most people younger than age 21 who drink alcohol report binge drinking, often consuming large amounts.6,7

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems,8–10 including the following:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning.
  • Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Memory and learning problems.
  • Alcohol use disorders.

Read more about the CDC study that found that excessive drinking in the U.S is a drain on the American economy.

Binge drinking costs everyone

  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 a drink. These costs resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses. Binge drinking was responsible for 77% of these costs, or $191 billion.2

The Community Preventive Services Task Force external iconrecommends evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms.

11 Recommended strategies include:

  • Using pricing strategies, including increasing alcohol taxes.
  • Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcoholic beverages in a given area.
  • Holding alcohol retailers responsible for the harms caused by illegal alcohol sales to minors or intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability).
  • Restricting access to alcohol by maintaining limits on the days and hours of alcohol retail sales.
  • Consistently enforcing laws against underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving.
  • Maintaining government controls on alcohol sales (avoiding privatization).

The US Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon also recommends screening and counseling for alcohol misuse in medical settings.

  1. Esser MB, Hedden SL, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Gfroerer JC, Naimi TS. Prevalence of alcohol dependence among US adult drinkers, 2009–2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:140329. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140329.
  2. Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 national and state costs of excessive alcohol consumptionexternal icon. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(5):e73–e79.
  3. Stahre M, Roeber J, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Zhang X. Contribution of excessive alcohol consumption to deaths and years of potential life lost in the United States. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130293. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.130293.
  4. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking pdf icon[PDF – 1.62MB]external icon. NIAAA Newsletter. 2004;3:3.
  5. Kanny D, Naimi TS, Liu Y, Lu H, Brewer RD. Annual Total Binge Drinks Consumed by U.S. Adults, 2015external icon. Am J Prev Med 2018;54:486–496.
  6. Esser MB, Clayton H, Demissie Z, Kanny D, Brewer RD. Current and Binge Drinking among High School Students – United States, 1991–2015. MMWR 2017;66:474-478.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking.external icon. Washington, DC: HHS; 2017.
  8. World Health Organization. Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health—2018external icon. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2018.
  9. Naimi TS, Lipscomb LE, Brewer RD, Colley BG. Binge drinking in the preconception period and the risk of unintended pregnancy: Implications for women and their childrenexternal icon. 2003;11(5):1136–1141.
  10. Iyasu S, Randall LL, Welty TK, et al. Risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome among northern plains Indiansexternal icon. 2002;288(21):2717–2723.
  11. Community Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Community Preventive Services. Excessive Alcohol Consumption websiteexternal icon. Accessed May 26, 2017.

Источник: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Binge Drinking vs. Heavy Drinking: What are the differences? Should I be concerned with either?

What Is Binge Drinking?

A guest blog provided by Dr. Reid Hester, CheckUp & Choices 

Excessive drinking is a concern for many, but there is confusion about the terms binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Differences between the two have different implications for both self-change and treatment. In this post I’ll discuss the meaning of these terms and how to tackle the conditions.

First the definitions of binge vs. heavy drinking, then the consequences and implications of these definitions.

Binge Drinking Defined

In years past the term binge drinking or “going on a binge” was not a medical term but referred to a person drinking large amounts of alcohol daily over a sustained period of time (“a binge”).

Recently, though, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has developed an operational definition of binge drinking that refers to much less drinking over a much shorter period of time.

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that results in a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaching up to .08 (80mg%). This level usually happens after four standard drinks for women, or five for men, in about 2 hours. Your BAC can be higher than this, depending on your weight and the amount of time you spend drinking. See our BAC table in another blog post.

For reference, a BAC of .08 is the legal limit for DWI/DUI in the U.S. A driver caught with a BAC of .08 or higher is automatically considered to be DWI/DUI. Most people who’ve had DWIs/DUIs consider them to be negative and expensive experiences.

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is defined as five or more episodes of binge drinking over the course of 30 days. I’ll come back to this in a bit.

Does binge drinking mean that a person has an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)? The short answer is no. That is not a sufficient criterium, although most people with even mild AUD engage in binge drinking. What is the issue with an occasional binge drinking episode? No harm, no foul, eh? That rationale could not be further from reality.

The higher a person’s BAC, the greater their risk for alcohol-related problems on that occasion. And the higher your BAC is (i.e., the drunker you are), the higher the risk is. Consequences from being intoxicated run the gamut from mildly embarrassing exchanges with others to physical fights to serious injuries (to oneself and/or others).

Examples of binge drinking and negative consequences can be seen during the holidays between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  These alcohol-related problems are the reason we see an increase in traffic to mutual help groups SMART Recovery, as well as to our online, confidential web application, CheckUp and Choices, right after January 1.

Considering doing something about your drinking in response to having alcohol-related problems is a common occurrence. The more problems a person experiences, the more they consider making a change. (The idea that one has to “hit bottom” before making a change is a myth.)

See related blog post: The Flawed Psychology of Forcing People to Hit “Rock Bottom”

Heavy Drinking Defined

Heavy drinking is defined as having five or more episodes of binge drinking in the past month. Heavy drinking is a bigger risk factor for developing an Alcohol User Disorder and increases one’s risk for long-term alcohol-related health problems. There are over 48 medical conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes, that are negatively affected by heavy drinking.

What To Do?

The holidays are a time when even social drinkers can drink more than usual and experience a binge drinking episode. If you’re in this group of drinkers, it is helpful to be mindful of the pressures to drink a lot when at parties, family gatherings, etc., and to consider limiting how much you drink at those times.

If you occasionally binge drink, it is also important to be mindful that these social events can be triggers to more frequent binge drinking and increase your attention to staying within low-risk drinking guidelines.

If you’re a heavy drinker, holiday parties and events can be a big risk factor for more serious alcohol-related problems if your BACs are high (.08 or more).

There is no shame in admitting to yourself that you’ve experienced alcohol-related problems and considering doing something about it. People do this all the time and the vast majority do so without ever going to rehab.

Low-Risk Drinking

NIAAA has defined a level of drinking considered “low-risk.” It is no more than three drinks on any day and no more than seven in a week for women, and for men no more than four drinks per day and no more than fourteen drinks per week.

People over 65 years of age have lower risk thresholds for drinking. For healthy men 65+, it’s the same as for women under 65: no more than three/day and seven per week. And for healthy women, the same limits apply regardless of age.

About CheckUp & Choices

CheckUp & Choices is a confidential, self-guided, online program that is clinically proven to help SMART Recovery participants. The “CheckUp” includes a comprehensive alcohol self-assessment.

The “Choices” programs include 12+ weeks of ongoing motivational exercises, drink, mood and urge trackers, guided emails and change plans. With Checkup & Choices, you are never labeled and you will be treated with respect and without judgment.

 Get started with CheckUp & Choices today.

About SMART Recovery

Founded in 1994, SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) uses science-based techniques that have proven to be effective in helping people recover from addiction problems involving any substance or behavior, including such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating, shopping and internet use.

Each week, many thousands of people discuss recovery progress and challenges at more than 3,000 in-person meetings in 23 countries, daily online meetings and 24/7/365 internet message board forums and chat rooms.

Participants use SMART to assume responsibility for their own recovery and become empowered using its 4-Point Program®: building motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life.

For more information, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.

Источник: https://www.smartrecovery.org/binge-drinking-vs-heavy-drinking/

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking used to mean drinking heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time (just as binge eating means a specific period of uncontrolled overeating).

Today the generally accepted definition of binge drinking in the United States is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men — or four or more drinks in a row by women — at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Heavy binge drinking includes three or more such episodes in 2 weeks.

Why Do People Binge Drink?

Liquor stores, bars, and alcoholic beverage companies make drinking seem attractive and fun. It's easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Inevitably, one of the biggest areas of peer pressure is drinking.

Other reasons why people drink include:

  • They're curious — they want to know what it's to drink alcohol.
  • They believe that it will make them feel good, not realizing it could just as easily make them sick and hung-over.
  • They may look at alcohol as a way to reduce stress, even though it can end up creating more stress.
  • They want to feel older.

Risks of Binge Drinking

Many people don't think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up.

You may know from experience that excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. When someone drinks too much and gets alcohol poisoning, it affects the body's involuntary reflexes — including breathing and the gag reflex. If the gag reflex isn't working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.

Other signs someone may have alcohol poisoning include:

  • extreme confusion
  • inability to be awakened
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • slow or irregular breathing
  • low body temperature
  • bluish or pale skin

If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.

Impaired Judgment

Binge drinking impairs judgment, so drinkers are more ly to take risks they might not take when they're sober. They may drive drunk and injure themselves or others.

Driving isn't the only motor skill that's impaired, though. Walking is also more difficult while intoxicated. In 2000, roughly one third of pedestrians 16 and older who were killed in traffic accidents were intoxicated.

People who are drunk also take other risks they might not normally take when they're sober. For example, people who have impaired judgment may have unprotected sex, putting them at greater risk of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or unplanned pregnancy.

Physical Health

Studies show that people who binge-drink throughout high school are more ly to be overweight and have high blood pressure by the time they are 24. Just one regular beer contains about 150 calories, which adds up to a lot of calories if someone drinks four or five beers a night.

Mental Health

Binge drinkers have a harder time in school and they're more ly to drop out. Drinking disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance.

People who binge-drink may find that their friends drift away — which is what happened with Chet and Dave. Drinking can affect personality; people might become angry or moody while drinking, for example.


Some studies have shown that people who binge-drink heavily — those who have three or more episodes of binge drinking in 2 weeks — have some of the symptoms of alcoholism.

Getting Help

If you think you or a friend have a binge-drinking problem, get help as soon as possible. The best approach is to talk to an adult you trust — if you can't approach your parents, talk to your doctor, school counselor, clergy member, aunt, or uncle.

It can be hard for some people to talk to adults about these issues, so an alternative could be a trusted friend or older sibling who is easy to talk to. Drinking too much can be the result of social pressures, and sometimes it helps to know there are others who have gone through the same thing.

If you're worried, don't hesitate to ask someone for help. A supportive friend or adult could help you to avoid pressure situations, stop drinking, or find counseling.

Источник: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/binge-drink.html

How Common Is Binge Drinking?

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 66 million, or about 24 percent of people in the United States ages 12 and older reported binge drinking during the past month.2 While binge drinking is a concern among all age groups, there are important trends in the following age groups:

  • Preteens and teens: Rates of binge drinking among 12- to 17-year-olds have been decreasing in the last decade. Still, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 4.9 percent of people in this age group reported binge drinking in the past month.3 
  • Young adults: Rates of binge drinking among 18- to 22-year-olds have been decreasing in the past decade but remain high. According to the 2019 NSDUH, 27.7 percent of people in this age group who are not enrolled in college full-time and 33.0 percent of full-time college students in this age group reported binge drinking in the past month.4
  • Older adults: Binge drinking is on the rise among older adults—more than 10 percent of adults ages 65 and older reported binge drinking in the past month,3 and the prevalence is increasing.4 The increase in this group is of particular concern because many older adults use medications that can interact with alcohol, have health conditions that can be exacerbated by alcohol, and may be more susceptible to alcohol-related falls and other accidental injuries.
  • Women: The number of women who binge drink has also increased. Studies show that among U.S. women who drink, about one in four has engaged in binge drinking in the last month, averaging about three binge episodes per month and five drinks per binge episode.5 These trends are concerning as women are at an increased risk for health problems related to alcohol misuse.

What Are the Consequences and Health Effects of Binge Drinking?

While drinking any amount of alcohol can carry certain risks (for information on impairments at lower levels, please see this chart), crossing the binge threshold increases the risk of acute harm, such as blackouts and overdoses.

Binge drinking also increases the lihood of unsafe sexual behavior and the risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintentional pregnancy. These risks are greater at higher peak levels of consumption.

Because of the impairments it produces, binge drinking also increases the lihood of a host of potentially deadly consequences, including falls, burns, drownings, and car crashes.

Alcohol affects virtually all tissues in the body. Data suggest that even one episode of binge drinking can compromise function of the immune system and lead to acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage.

Alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, over time contributes to liver and other chronic diseases, as well as increases in the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.

Binge drinking can be deadly. Roughly 95,000 deaths resulted from alcohol misuse in the United States between 2011 and 2015, and almost half (46 percent) were associated with binge drinking.6 Binge drinking also is costly. Researchers estimated that binge drinking accounted for 77 percent ($191.1 billion) of the $249 billion economic cost of alcohol misuse in 2010.7 

How Does Binge Drinking Affect Adolescents?

Brain development, once thought to taper off at the end of childhood, enters a unique phase during the adolescent years. Research indicates that repeated episodes of binge drinking during the teen years can alter the trajectory of adolescent brain development and cause lingering deficits in social, attention, memory, and other cognitive functions.8

What Is “High-Intensity” Drinking?

“High-intensity drinking” is defined as alcohol intake at levels twice or more the gender-specific threshold for binge drinking. This dangerous drinking pattern means 8 or more drinks for women and 10 or more drinks for men on one occasion. Research suggests that high-intensity drinking peaks around age 21 and is most common among young adults attending college.9

This pattern of drinking is of particular concern because it is associated with an even greater risk of severe health and safety consequences. More research is needed to identify interventions that can be used to discourage this pattern of use.

For more information about binge drinking, alcohol use disorder, and available evidence-based treatments, please visit Rethinking Drinking and the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator

1 Chung, T.; Creswell, K.G.; Bachrach, R.; et al. Adolescent binge drinking: Developmental context and opportunities for prevention. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):5–15, 2018. PMID: 30557142

2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 20198 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 2.20A—Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month Among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Age Group and Demographic Characteristics: Numbers in Thousands, 20178 and 20189, and 2.20B—Table 2.

20B Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month Among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Age Group and Demographic Characteristics: Percentages, 20178 and 20189. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHD… and https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHD….

Accessed 8/10/20January 6, 2021.

3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 2.

7B—Alcohol Use, Binge Alcohol Use, and Heavy Alcohol Use in Past Month Among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Detailed Age Category: Percentages, 2018 and 2019. Available at: https://www.samhsa.

gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHD…. Accessed January 6, 2021.

4 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 6.

21B—Types of Illicit Drug, Tobacco Product, and Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 22, by College Enrollment Status and Gender: Percentages, 2018 and 2019. Available at: https://www.samhsa.

gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHD…. Accessed February 25, 2021. 

5 Kanny, D.; Naimi, T.S.; Liu, Y.; Lu, H.; and Brewer, R.D. Annual total binge drinks consumed by U.S. adults, 2015. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 54(4):486–496, 2018. PMID: 29555021

6 Esser, M.B.; Sher, A.; Liu, Y.; et al. Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost From Excessive Alcohol Use—United States, 2011-2015. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 69:1428-1433, 2020. PMID: 33001874

7 Sacks, J.J.; Gonzales, K.R.; Bouchery, E.E.; et al. 2010 National and state costs of excessive alcohol consumption. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 49(5):e73–e79, 2015. PMID: 26477807

8 Jones, S.A.; Lueras, J.M.; and Nagel, B.J. Effects of binge drinking on the developing brain: Studies in humans. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):87–96, 2018. PMID: 30557151

9 Patrick, M.E.; and Azar, B. High-intensity drinking. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39(1):49–55, 2018. PMID: 30557148

Источник: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/binge-drinking

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