US Adults Drink 17 Billion Binge Drinks a Year
Don’t binge drink. Drinking less reduces the chance you’ll harm yourself or others.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion (2-3 hours) for women and 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men.
Binge drinking is responsible for over half of the 88,000 alcohol-attributable deaths and three quarters of the $249 billion economic costs of excessive drinking each year in the United States.
Binge drinking can result in dangerous driving, risky sexual behavior, and violent behavior. Over time, binge drinking also increases the risk of other serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and liver failure.
U.S. adults consume more than 17 billion binge drinks, or about 470 binge drinks per binge drinker annually.1 While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18-34 years, more than half of the binge drinks consumed each year are by adults aged 35 years or older. Adult binge drinkers binge frequently, about once a week, and at high intensity, averaging seven drinks per binge, significantly increasing the risk of harm to themselves and others.
New insights into binge drinking:
- About 4 in 5 total binge drinks are consumed by men.
- Binge drinkers with lower household incomes (less than $25,000 a year) and lower educational levels (less than high school) consume substantially more binge drinks per year than those with higher incomes and educational levels.
- Binge drinkers consume the most in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Hawaii, and the lowest in DC, New Jersey, New York, and Washington State.
What can we do about this public health problem?
Don’t binge drink. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation – up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men. Drinking less reduces the chance you’ll harm yourself or others.
Widespread use of effective community prevention strategies for excessive drinking, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, could help reduce total binge drinks and related harms. These strategies include limiting the number of alcohol outlets in a geographic area, limiting days and hours of sale, and legal liability for outlets that illegally serve underage or intoxicated customers.
- Page last reviewed: March 26, 2018
- Page last updated: March 26, 2018
- Content source:
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs