What is binge drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking for women as consuming 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours, where as for men, it is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Alternatively, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent or above. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six U.S. adults engages in binge drinking about four times per month. While binge drinking is most common among young adults (18-34 years old), binge drinkers who are 65 years old or older report binge drinking more often. Although binge drinking does commonly occur among college students, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults over the age of 26. However, 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking.

Why should I be concerned?

Here are some of the many health problems that binge drinking is associated with:

  • 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, and
  • Poor control of diabetes.

To learn more about binge drinking and its effects, visit some of the resources listed below.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guide to Community Preventive Services. Preventing excessive alcohol consumption. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.