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Binge drinking

  • Alcohol use is very common in our society. Drinking alcohol has immediate effects that can increase the risk of many harmful health conditions.
  • Excessive alcohol use, either in the form of heavy drinking (drinking 15 or more drinks per week  for men or 8 or more drinks per week for women), or binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as liver disease or unintentional injuries.
  • According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, more than half of the adult U.S. population drank alcohol in the past 30 days. Approximately 5% of the total population drank heavily, while 17% of the population binge drank.
  • According to the ARDI application, from 2006–2010 there were approximately 88,000 deaths annually attributable to excessive alcohol use. In fact, excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people in the United States each year.
  • Alcohol use poses additional problems for underage drinkers and pregnant women.

Prevalence of binge drinking and heavy drinking among adults in the United States, 1993–2009.

Prevalence of binge drinking and heavy drinking among adults in the United States, 1993–2009.
 

The source for these data is CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Information about the BRFSS is available at http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/index.htm.

[A notes and text description of this graph is also available.]

† Binge drinking data from 1993–2005 represent all respondents who report consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion. Data from 2006–2009 represent men who report consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion, and women who report consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion, during the past 30 days.

‡ Heavy drinking data from 1993–2000 represent all respondents aged 18 years and older who report an average of 2 or more drinks per day (i.e., 60 or more alcoholic drinks a month). Data from 2001–2009 represent all male respondents aged 18 years and older who report an average of more than 2 drinks per day and female respondents aged 18 years and older who report an average of more than 1 drink per day.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking Among Adults, 2010

Prevalence of Binge Drinking among Adults, 2009

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Combined Landline and Cellular Telephone Developmental Dataset, Adults Aged 18 Years and Older.
Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census standard population.

[Notes and text description of this map are also available.]

Intensity* of Binge Drinking Among Adults, 2010

Intensity of Binge Drinking Among Adults, 2010

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Combined Landline and Cellular Telephone Developmental Dataset, Adults Aged 18 Years and Older.

*Average largest number of drinks consumed by binge drinkers on any occasion in the past month.

Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census standard population.

[Notes and text description of this map are also available.]

The source for these data is CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Information about the BRFSS is available at http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/index.htm.

Economic Costs

  • Excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006. This amounts to about $1.90 per drink, or about $746 per person.
  • The costs due to excessive drinking largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), health care expenses (11%), and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.
  • Excessive alcohol use cost states and DC a median of $2.9 billion in 2006, ranging from $420 million in North Dakota to $32 billion in California.
  • Binge drinking, defined as consuming 4 or more drinks per occasion for women or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men, was responsible for more than 70% of the cost of excessive alcohol use in all states and DC.
  • About $2 of every $5 of the economic costs of excessive alcohol use were paid by federal, state, and local governments.
  • The total state costs for excessive drinking were generally of the same order of magnitude as the costs for smoking and Medicaid.

 

Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption by State, 2006

Source: Sacks JJ, Roeber J, Bouchery EE, et al. State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption, 2006. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013
[Notes and text description of this map are also available.]

 

 
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