New estimates from national surveys show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink about four times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average eight. This behavior greatly increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others from car crashes, violence and suicide. Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes 80,000 deaths in the United States each year.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to .08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks and when women consume four or more drinks in two hours or less.

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.

According to the surveys,
  • Although college students commonly binge drink, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is higher than among women.
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
  • About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • About 75 percent 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 percent).
  • Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning); intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence); and alcohol poisoning.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention