Binge drinking is a serious but preventable public health problem
Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion. 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.
Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on 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 or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
Who binge drinks?
- One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
- Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years but is reported across the lifespan.
- The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.
- Binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among people with lower incomes. However, people with lower incomes binge drink more often and consume more drinks when they do.
- Over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
- Most people younger than age 21 who drink report binge drinking, usually on multiple occasions.
Binge drinking has serious risks.
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, 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 dependence.
What can I do if I or someone I know has a drinking problem?
Consult your personal healthcare provider if you feel you or someone you know has a drinking problem. Other resources include the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service, available at 1-800-662-HELP. This service can provide you with information about treatment programs in your local community and allow you to speak with someone about alcohol problems.
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